I'm backing this minnow despite odds
Published 08/05/2014 | 02:30
For its first several years after launching in 1998, TV3 was an embarrassment. Its schedule was bought-in brain-killing prole-feed, half-hearted news bulletins and ... I'm struggling to think of anything else.
In fairness, though, the Ballymount operation has considerably upped its game over the last decade. There's been much more home-produced programming – including drama, which is expensive and labour-intensive.
The independent channel's continued viability is a minor miracle, given how relatively tiny its budgets are. Yesterday it launched 'Upfronts', its plan for 2015.
More than 60pc of total spend is now on original content.
There's a large fly in this ointment, however: next January's arrival of UTV in the Republic. It's owned by ITV, which means it will be taking ratings giants like 'Coronation Street', 'Emmerdale', 'Jeremy Kyle' and 'I'm a Celebrity'.
The Ulster channel won't be going after RTE; by its own admission, it doesn't intend sinking money into this. TV3, however, is more vulnerable. Its target audiences would be comparable.
It's a difficult situation, and arguably, TV3 shouldn't be in it.
For 16 years it has beaten the economic odds. Is it right, or fair, that its survival be jeopardised by the expansion plans of a foreign multinational?
TV3 chiefs sounded bullish about their prospects yesterday. I hope they're right.