No star presenters or ‘glitzy’ studio for UTV
Media group begins recruiting executives for proposed service in the Republic
UTV Media group chief executive, John McCann: Content more important than big-name presenters
UTV Media has begun recruiting for its new television channel in the Republic, with the company seeking a head of channel and a head of sales operations in Dublin, as well as two Belfast-based programme schedulers. UTV Media group chief executive John McCann said poaching a “star” name to anchor its proposed one-hour news programme was not UTV’s priority.
“Some broadcasters start with the presenters and then build a show around them. We actually don’t do it like that and we wouldn’t see it like that for this channel. What is important for us, and we think for the viewer, is the content,” he said.
“There are names almost that have become more important than the material that is in the show itself. To me it should be the other way around.”
Apart from its deal for content rights with ITV Studios, “nothing is fixed in stone” for the station, which is set to go on air in January 2015.
UTV Media will update the market on its recent trading performance today via an interim management statement. Although Mr McCann indicated a “fragile” recovery has begun in both television and radio advertising revenues, overall turnover and operating profits are on track to be lower this year than they were in 2012, when the group, which owns the UK radio station TalkSport, benefitted from the commercial impact of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
As part of the latest cuts in Belfast, eight video editors and camera operators have been made redundant. Mr McCann said: “We have gone through tough times, and we’ve trimmed our cloth, but we’ll get through it and we’ll adapt.”
Mr McCann and UTV Television managing director Michael Wilson have stepped up their search for suitable premises in Dublin, with the hope that a building can be found in the Docklands area, close to where UTV’s radio stations FM104 and Q102 are located. The “multi-million” investment in the Republic is likely to involve the construction of modest facilities rather than a “big, glitzy studio”.
The UTV boss said he was “very comfortable with the price we have paid” for the ITV Studios programming rights, which will give it exclusive rights in the Republic to broadcast soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, as well as winter schedule fixture I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! and a number of other entertainment and drama programmes.
UTV intends to create at least 100 jobs for its new service. About 70 of the positions will be based in Dublin, with the remainder in Cork, Limerick and Waterford, where it will base news reporters. About half of the jobs will be editorial roles for which it will begin recruiting next year.