UK commercial broadcaster ITV has acquired the television assets of Northern Ireland’s UTV, a division of UTV Media.
The deal – worth US$154 million (£100 million) – will also see ITV securing UTV Ireland, which launched a new dedicated channel for the Republic of Ireland in January 2015.
The acquisition will further strengthen ITV’s free-to-air business with 13 of the 15 regional licenses for the Channel 3 network, with Scotland’s STV remaining the only independent regional broadcaster in the territory.
UTV Media will retain its radio businesses UTV Radio GB and UTV Radio Ireland, as well as its digital media businesses, Simply Zesty and Tibus Digital.
UTV Media’s television assets reported total revenues of £34.7 million in 2014, with operating profits of £6.6 million, which included £3 million in start-up costs for UTV Ireland.
The sale is subject to UTV Media’s shareholder approval and regulatory approval from Ofcom, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Irish Minister for Communications. It will be financed through existing cash and debt facilities.
ITV most recently acquired Talpa Media in a deal worth US$531.68 million (£355 million) last March.
“We have a long-standing relationship with UTV, which has been the leading commercial broadcaster in Northern Ireland for many years thanks to its strong regional identity and blend of excellent local programming and strong network shows,” said ITV chief executive Adam Crozier (pictured) in a statement.
“The market leading success of our television business has been built over many years on the well-established formula of high quality local programming packaged around an attractive network schedule,” added John McCann, group chief executive of UTV Media. “Becoming part of the ITV Family is by far the best way to take UTV’s television business forward with an ongoing focus to provide brilliant television to viewers right across Ireland.”