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UTV clears final Irish hurdle

Northern Irish commercial broadcaster UTV has been given the go-ahead to start its planned TV service in the Republic of Ireland, after signing a 10-year deal with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The deal, signed in Dublin yesterday, removes the final regulatory hurdle facing the broadcaster, which plans to launch the channel across the border in January 2015.

UTV Ireland will be based in Dublin with offices in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, creating more than 100 new jobs by 2015, the company said. The broadcaster also has an agreement with UK broadcaster ITV to give the new channel the exclusive rights to UK soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the Republic.

The news will come as a huge blow to rival broadcaster TV3, which currently airs both shows, and also puts significant pressure on the Republic’s pubcaster RTÉ, as a presence north and south of the border will give UTV more firepower in bidding for international rights to other programmes.

John McCann, group chief executive at UTV Media, said the deal represented a “strong vote of confidence” by UTV in Irish broadcasting and “our investment in the Irish economy.”

The news comes in the same week that Irish investment group TVC Holdings sold off part of its stake in UTV for €22.1m (US$30.2m).


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