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Why UTV Ireland will feel the Pressure in 2015 & into the future


UTV Ireland should be welcomed on all platforms. There is no real reason for the Minister to designate it as a Public Service Broadcaster as there are many other laws that could be referenced before a minister would take the step of declaring the channel Public service in nature. It was wrong of TV3 to argue that UTV Ireland should not appear on Saorview, but it is also wrong for a Minister to declare something Public Service in nature to get around such arguments. After all we live in a democracy and really if it is government policy to set up a new Public service broadcaster then they should launch a transparent competition for that service, overseen by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). It also does not mean that UTV Ireland will pay the same BAI levies as the other radio and TV broadcasters in the country or that UTV Ireland have any requirements for Irish programming.

Largely TV3 are correct to say they are no more than an opt-out, but why worry when you clearly had no interest in the ITV package you bought over the last 14 years? If UTV Ireland expect to reach the kind of RTÉ ONE audience share it cannot just provide News and Current Affairs as it does in the North.

UTV Ireland fails to see that RTÉ One has a much larger number of Home-produced in prime-time television outside of News and Current Affairs. For UTV Ireland to even consider itself as a contender for the number one position it will need to have a wide variety of home produced programmes across its prime time schedule. This is an expensive option and something TV3’s former owners (Canwest) were clear to rule out stating that by chasing number 1 spot you end up with a lot of expensive programming making no money.

UTV Ireland will split the current UTV/TV3 audience, the 14% of viewers watching UTV and TV3 will now be split down the middle 7% watching UTV for the soaps and 7% watching TV3 for sports and ITV weekend programming.

This is where both channels will want to make gains. TV3 did have a chance to make gains during 2014 but failed to do so, while UTV Ireland could have been on the backfoot. However now it looks like TV3 has to reinvent itself and UTV Ireland is launch a new channel.
UTV Ireland will be a major presence online. News and Current Affairs will be central to its online output, this is a major boost to the channel when compared to TV3’s online presence.
UTV Ireland will compete and take audience from both Mainstream Irish channels RTÉ ONE and TV3. It is bizarre to even suggest that TV3 is aim at a youth market when it is clearly aimed at a mainstream market with programmes like Ireland AM, Midday and so on.

Both UTV Ireland and TV3 will also need to insure that ITV programming is delivered at the same time as ITV. UTV use of their original name is misused as it suggests that it contains the majority of ITV shows, this is not the case as many are still owned by TV3, while others are owned by RTÉ.

UTV What should they do?

UTV needs to focus on more home produced programming. This includes UTV in Northern Ireland. Many in the republic bemoan the fact that ITV carry English soccer matches and the loss of UTV proper means that they will no longer get these transmissions. But UTV in Northern Ireland doesn't even carry live sport for a Northern Irish audience, little has been said of the lack of coverage to Soccer by the main commerical PSB in Northern Ireland. Does anyone think that UTV Ireland will cover sport south of the boarder?

TV3 and RTÉ2 will now have first choice on UEFA champions league, while TV3 will also benifit from its Rugby World Cup coverage in September. ITV have lost UEFA champions league from the 2015/2016 season.

UTV +1

UTV should replace UTV +1 with a mixed service. One in that south that carries ITN news and the other in the North that carries its news service Ireland Live. With a mix of repeats available for consumption for all.