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UTV preps TV station in Ireland

Northern Irish broadcaster UTV is launching a new television station across the border in the Republic of Ireland, depriving TV3 of two of its biggest soap operas.

UTV Ireland will be based in Dublin with offices in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, creating more than 100 new jobs by 2015.

An application to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to run the new channel has been made by UTV today.

The plans follow the signing of an exclusive contract by UTV with UK broadcaster ITV to give the new station the exclusive rights to soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the Republic.

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

John McCann, group CEO of UTV Media, said: “The audience in Ireland has known the UTV brand for more than 50 years through our station for Northern Ireland and we’re delighted to announce our plans for a new dedicated channel for viewers in the Republic of Ireland.

“UTV Media already has a very strong presence in the Republic of Ireland, employing more than 300 people in our various businesses including our market-leading Irish radio stations. We look forward to building on that success with the launch of a new Irish TV channel.”

UTV expects the new channel to break even in its first full year of operation (from early 2015) and then move into profit from 2016.

UTV was the first commercial TV channel in Ireland when it launched as part of the ITV Network in 1959.

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