Virgin Media bolsters Irish interest with UTV deal

Pay-television operator Virgin Media has furthered its investment in the Irish media sector by agreeing a deal to acquire commercial broadcaster UTV Ireland.

The agreement with UK commercial broadcaster ITV, UTV's parent, is for a purchase price of €10m ($11m) and includes a 10-year output deal in Ireland for ITV-produced programming.

Virgin Media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of media group Liberty Global and the proposed transaction follows its acquisition of UTV’s fellow commercial broadcaster TV3 last year.

On completion of the purchase, which is subject to competition and regulatory approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland as well as a separate media plurality test by the Irish Government, UTV Ireland will become part of Virgin Media.

Pat Kiely, managing director of TV3, said: “The proposed acquisition of UTV Ireland will ensure further investment in the independent Irish television sector as we continue to compete head on against significant local and international competition.”

UTV’s sports coverage has included boxing title bouts featuring Belfast fighter Carl Frampton (pictured).