UTV deal gets IRTC approval

The Independent Radio and Television Commission have given their approval – in principle at least – to a 60% UTV purchase of Cork’s County Media which includes three local radio stations. Last month, the Commission blocked a 100% takeover by UTV because it contravened their guidelines on local ownership but, according to IRTC chairman Mr Conor J. Maguire SC, the new bid satisfies the majority of the Commission’s board that there will be a majority of local people on County Media’s board following the takeover. Sitting on the new board would be two people from County Media, two from UTV and an independent local chairperson. Existing staff will stay in place. Although the current bid was still what Mr Maguire called an ‘exception’ to IRTC guidelines which prevent more than a 27% controlling interest by an existing media group in any other, he states that the rules have not been changed by default. The guidelines are due to be discussed in April.