Business

Irish station TV3 eyes expansion north of the border

Broadchurch, starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant, is among TV3's biggest audience winners

THE new boss for TV3 in the Republic has hinted the station may expand north of the border.

Tony Hanway heads up Virgin Media Ireland which bought TV3 earlier this week for €87 million (£62.9m).

Mr Hanway said expanding the broadcaster into Northern Ireland appeared an "obvious" move.

There are also plans to combine the Virgin Media companies on each side of the border into one all-island operation.

The plans to expand TV3 follows closely after the ill-fated move UTV to growth south of the border with its UTV Ireland channel.

That launched in January this year but has been beset by mounting losses - £13m in its first year at the latest estimate - while UTV Media have finally decided to sell off the channel to British broadcaster ITV.

Many analysts had predicted the demise of TV3 ahead of UTV Ireland's launch.

However, the station has retained and won several major programmes including such as The X Factor and Broadchurch.

And the channel pulled off a major coup by winning the rights to show Rugby World Cup games from 2019 and Six Nations rugby matches from 2018 to 2021.

It also holds the rights to some Champions' League games and reality shows such as Big Brother.

“Northern Ireland is one of the obvious places to expand TV3," Mr Hanway told The Irish Times.

"We’ve had an example of someone from Northern Ireland coming into the Republic; why not the other way round?"

If the station does expand into the north, it would likely have to launch a separate channel with the rights to many of its flagship shows and sports offerings already owned by rival broadcasters in the UK.

TV3 was launched in 1998 and was the Republic's first commercial television station.

The station was grown to command a 12 per cent share of the audience south of the border.

It also operates a sister channel e3 aimed a youthful audience.

Virgin Media a subsidiary of Liberty Global, the world's largest cable company which operates in 14 countries.

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