UTV extends its broadcasting licence to 2025
BROADCASTER UTV's licence is to be extend by 10 years to 2025 by British broadcasting authorities.
The stockmarket-listed company said it has accepted financial terms from UK regulator OFCOM to renew its Northern Ireland TV licence.
The licence will cost UTV, which is based in the North, a nominal £10,000 (€12,000) per year – the same rate that has applied since 2010.
OFCOM slashed the price of regional licences, that had once cost tens of millions per year, in 2010.
Up to 2005, UTV had been obliged to pay a fixed fee of £611,000 a year plus 5pc of qualifying revenue for the right to operate. That was cut to £120,000 a year plus 5pc of revenue between 2005 and 2010, then reduced to the flat £10,000 a year rate.
The cost of regional broadcasting licences have been slashed to reflect the growth of competition in the TV sector from digital and other operators.
The news was welcomed by the chief executive of UTV John McCann. "Today's announcement is wonderful news for our staff and our business and ensures UTV's continued investment in the local economy in Northern Ireland," he said.
UTV holds what is called a "Channel 3" regional licence to broadcast. Channel 5 and ITV-owned broadcasters Anglia, Carlton, Central, Granada, LWT, Meridian and Yorkshire TV operate under similar licences.
The renewed licence will run for 10 years from January 1 2015.
That is the same date when the company plans to launch its new channel in the Republic, which will be based in Dublin.
Last week UTV said it had begun negotiations with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for a television content provision contract, under section 71 of the Irish Broadcasting Act.
In July last year OFCOM rejected an application from UTV to be allowed to reduce its output of local non-news programmes from two hours a week to one and a half hours, which would have been in line with regional stations in Scotland and England. UTV shares closed unchanged a €3.10 each yesterday.