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Liberty circles UTV Ireland

Liberty Global is reportedly considering a move for UTV Ireland. Liberty already owns Irish broadcaster TV3.

A deal would raise the prospect of the two Irish television stations being merged, and expand the reach of US cable and telecoms billionaire John Malone in this country.

A spokesperson for Virgin Media Ireland – a subsidiary of Liberty Global – told the Irish Independent that Liberty Global would “always consider strategic business opportunities in markets where it operates”, but would not comment further. UTV Ireland has thus far declined to comment.

A takeover would put UTV Ireland into the hands of a third different owner in 18 months. The station was sold by its original owner, UTV Media (later to become Wireless Group), to UK broadcaster ITV in February, after a series of warnings that it was going to lose more money than expected, with audience numbers slow to build momentum.

When that deal was announced last October, ITV said that it would strengthen the station “with high-quality ITV programming at its core”.

The news emerges days after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation agreed terms to buy a number of prominent Irish radio stations – including Dublin’s FM104 and Cork’s 98FM – via a £220m takeover of UTV Ireland’s ex-parent Wireless Group.

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