Monday 18 December 2017

Row at UTV paves way for TV shake-up

LAST week's boardroom bust-up at UTV could mark the opening shot in a shake-up of the television market on both sides of the border.

On Thursday, UTV issued a sensational statement announcing that its board had voted to remove its long-standing chairman John McGuckian. According to the statement, the board felt that Mr McGuckian's "close association" with TVC, which has an 18 per cent shareholding in TVC, had "compromised his independence". Mr McGuckian is also a director of TVC.

Following Mr McGuckian's removal, two other UTV directors, Shane Reihill -- who is also executive chairman of TVC -- and Kevin Lagan also quit. Quite clearly, there has been a major falling out between UTV and its single largest shareholder.

Following Thursday's dramatic events it is difficult to see how relations between UTV and TVC can be restored, and the latter's 18 per cent UTV shareholding must now be up for grabs. UTV is now only one of two UK independent television franchises not owned by ITV Plc. Is that about to change?

Meanwhile, what are the implications of the UTV shemozzle for TV3, which in recent years has increasingly come to resemble a sort of ITV-Eire?

UK private equity house Doughty Hanson must rue the day it agreed to pay €265m for the Ballymount broadcaster in 2006. Now that the dance has started, will TV3 also be looking for a new partner?

Sunday Indo Business

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