Gerry Kelly: UTV won't splash the cash to take on RTE
A FORMER star of UTV has poured cold water on its attempt to gain a foothold in the republic.
Gerry Kelly says the station will not attempt to take on RTE with rival shows.
The presenter, who hosted his Kelly chatshow on UTV for 18 years before it was axed in 2007, reckons it will be "more a news service" with bought-in ITV soaps like Coronation Street and little original programming.
"UTV make so little programmes up North I can hardly see them doing it differently down south. It will be all about the bottom line," Kelly told the Herald.
"UTV won't spend the money to go up against big RTE shows. They never made chat shows, and as for soaps, UTV had 50 years to do a soap in the North and didn't do it. So I doubt they will start now in the Republic."
But the 65-year-old, who now works as a radio host with BBC NI, welcomed UTV's move into the Republic, as did Julian Simmons.
The continuity presenter told the Herald he is regularly mobbed on the streets of Dublin. "I would be delighted to do more work in the south," he said.
The announcement by UTV that it intends to launch a station in 2015 surprised many, including Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.
"It's somewhat of a surprise, I'll admit but one has to be positive about it," said Mr Rabbitte.
"It means more competition in the broadcasting space and will create jobs in the Republic and the island of Ireland... and will provide more competition for incumbents."
UTV has denied rumours its decision to set up a station was driven by a desire to buy TV3.
TV3 chief executive David McRedmond said: "We've had other players come into to the market in the past and they haven't stayed.
"It is a challenge but we have refocused our attention on home-grown programming and that will remain our focus."
Ken Sweeney, The Herald