Saorview concerns flagged over TV3/UTV merger
Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30
The takeover of UTV Ireland by TV3, which is owned by cable TV platform Virgin Media, could result in discrimination against RTE's Saorview platform, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has been told.
An unnamed third party alleged that the deal could reduce the availability of channels in the TV3 stable on RTE's free-to-air service.
It was also claimed that Virgin Media could give less favourable placing to rival stations on its electronic programme guide and that the platform could refuse to carry other Irish stations.
However, these concerns were dismissed by the CCPC, which cleared the deal earlier this month.
A detailed determination just published by the watchdog noted that Liberty Global, the ultimate owner of Virgin Media, said the takeover would enable the business "to improve its content offering and to enable it to compete more effectively" against other players in the Irish market.
These included RTE, Sky, Eir and BBC as well as newer entrants, such as Netflix, You Tube and Apple TV,
A submission from Liberty Global said that the deal reflected the "confidence Virgin Media has in the Irish TV programming and production sectors."
"On completion of the acquisition, UTV Ireland will become part of Virgin Media, which will ensure continued investment in the channel's long-term future."
"It also allows Liberty Global to better understand this sector and develop its knowledge and expertise by investing and growing beyond its existing cable business in a national market in which it operates."
UTV Ireland was launched in 2015, but audience numbers were poor.
It holds the rights to Coronation Street and Emmerdale, two of the country's most popular programmes.
Sunday Indo Business