Battle of anchorwomen as UTV moves Alison to take on TV3's Colette
Get ready for the battle of the anchorwomen.
UTV Ireland has launched a bunfight at teatime as they prepare to directly take on TV3 for news audience, pitting anchor Alison Comyn against Colette Fitzpatrick.
The newest national broadcaster has announced that it will move its current early evening news programme forward from 6.30pm to 5.30pm.
The 'Ireland Live News' team will also deliver hourly news updates, from 6am to 5pm and from 7pm to 9pm.
A spokesperson for UTV Ireland explained the move, saying it had done "a lot of research" with its audience and found that there was "a desire for an earlier slot of news".
However, a television industry insider was incredulous at the move, describing the decision as "aggressive" and "bizarre".
"TV3's 5.30pm news is the most watched programme across all the stations at that time," the insider explained.
"They own that slot in the same way that RTÉ owns the Six One."
TAM Nielsen ratings show that TV3 has an average of 138,000 viewers for its 5.30pm news.
Out of an available audience of 832,500, that is a market share of 16.8pc.
Meanwhile, UTV Ireland's 6.30pm news has an average of 28,500 viewers out of an available audience of 1.6 million - a 2.45pc market share.
However, the industry insider claimed UTV Ireland "didn't have an option but to make the switch because their news is not working".
TV3 spokesperson Sharon McHugh said: "We will continue to provide our viewers with the TV news service that they want."
Mary Curtis, head of channel at UTV Ireland, said 'Ireland Live News' provides "a quality news alternative for viewers" with a unique approach to news delivery and a strong focus on regional issues and views.
"We carried out significant research with our audience which indicated the desire for an earlier teatime news and we are, therefore, moving Ireland Live to meet those demands," she said.
Marcus Lehnen, UTV Ireland's head of news, said the hourly news updates would mean the station would be delivering the latest news ahead of any other Irish broadcaster.
The programme is only four months old, having launched with the UTV Ireland channel in early January this year.