Irish TV wound up as attempts to secure funding fails

Station employed 30 people in Westport promoting Mayo and Irish culture

John Griffin, former chairman of and principal investor in Irish TV. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

John Griffin, former chairman of and principal investor in Irish TV. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

A television company in Co Mayo employing 30 people has been wound up by order of the High Court.

Teilifís Mhaigh Eo Teoranta, trading as “Irish TV” and operating from Westport Industrial Park, was, along with its holding company, placed under court protection last month on the basis of being insolvent as a going concern, with a funding shortfall and substantial liabilities over assets.

Michael McAteer was appointed examiner and, in a report provided to the High Court on Tuesday by his counsel Kelly Smith, he outlined that several efforts to obtain investment funding had failed.

In those and other circumstances, and despite implementation of cost-cutting measures, it was believed the company had no reasonable prospect of survival as a going concern, the report stated.

Jennifer O’Connell, for Revenue, said it was not objecting to a wind-up order.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello agreed to make orders ending court protection, discharging the examiner and winding up the company and its holding company, Eochair Media Holdings Ltd (EMHL). She appointed Mr McAteer as official liquidator of both companies.

Teilifís Mhaigh Eo Teoranta, established in May 2011, broadcasts a 24-hour channel on Sky, Eir and free-to-air services as well as an online video-on-demand service. It was established with objectives including to promote Mayo as a centre of Irish and Celtic culture and to promote the Irish language.

It is a subsidiary of Eochair Media Holdings Ltd (EMHL) which, it was stated in court documents last month, had “encountered an unexpected and significant funding shortfall”.

Co-founder and chief executive Piaras O’Reilly and managing director Mairead O’Reilly together own 51 per cent of EMHL while John Griffin has the other major shareholding with 41 per cent. Mr Griffin, a London-based millionaire who sold his Addison Lee cab business for £300 million in 2014, resigned as a director of both EMHL and Teilifís Mhaigh Eo on October 27th last.

When seeking court protection, Irish TV said it was left with an immediate operational cashflow shortfall after the main funder withdrew support in late October. That followed four years of losses and the group now has net liabilities of €8.7 million, it said.

An independent expert’s report found the deficiency between assets and liabilities has been satisfactorily accounted for and is due to the accumulated losses of the past four years, it added.

‘Minicab millionaire’

In an interview with The Irish Times in 2014, Mr Griffin predicted Irish TV would “be worth £100 million in about two years”.

The “minicab millionaire” was born in London, but moved to Mayo with his mother as a toddler, before returning to London with her to join his emigrant father at the age of nine. He said at the time he would invest £15 million in the project.

Also on Tuesday, the judge adjourned to next month an application by Noel Travers SC, for singer Tommy Fleming and other parties, to grant judgment in default of defence against the companies in proceedings over alleged use of a promotional DVD sent out by the singer in relation to his bestselling DVD Voice of Hope. The proceedings have been brought by Mr Fleming, Tina Mitchell Fleming and TF Productions Ltd.