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RTÉ considers UK expansion

Irish public broadcaster RTÉ is considering launching a TV service in the UK, as the impending launch of UTV Ireland draws near.

RTÉ director general Noel Curran told delegates at the Belfast Media Festival that the channel was looking to tap into revenue from the UK advertising market because of increasing competition in the Republic, according to The Irish Times.

“Given the ever-increasing competition south of the border and the arrival of so many new entrants we have to look again at our advertising offering,” Curran said.

An RTÉ television service in the UK could also “improve our overall offering to the Irish community in that country, an important responsibility we have,” he added.

His comments come as Northern Irish commercial broadcaster UTV prepares to launch south of the border in January.

The fledgling channel already has an agreement with UK commercial broadcaster ITV for exclusive rights to soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the Republic.

That news came as a blow to rival broadcaster TV3, which currently airs both shows, and also puts significant pressure on RTÉ, as a presence north and south of the border will give UTV more firepower in bidding for international rights to other programmes. RTÉ also faces a rise in the number of UK channels now selling advertising in Ireland.

Curran added that UK satcaster Sky and UPC should pay for the carriage of RTÉ on their pay TV platforms and that RTÉ would be taking the issue to the government in the coming months.

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