UTV Ireland counts down to launch as Docklands studio fit-out well under way

The fitout of its studio in Dublin’s Docklands is due to be completed next month

UTV Ireland presenter Alison Comyn: a male news anchor will shortly be appointed to join Ms Comyn on the core presenting team, while some news correspondents will act as presenter substitutes as required. photograph: cyril byrne

UTV Ireland presenter Alison Comyn: a male news anchor will shortly be appointed to join Ms Comyn on the core presenting team, while some news correspondents will act as presenter substitutes as required. photograph: cyril byrne

 

With fewer than 100 days before UTV Ireland goes on the air, the studio fit-out at Macken House in Dublin’s Docklands is now well under way courtesy of specialist contractors Mac Interiors and architects MCA.

The studio, which will mainly be used for the early evening Ireland Live bulletin and the 60-minute current affairs show Ireland Live at 10, will see the two news presenters sit on a “modular” set in front of a Perspex screen, behind which the UTV newsroom and its hotdesking journalists will be visible.

This means all the furniture and work equipment in the newsroom will have to be selected and arranged so that it appears well on screen, while, as with all studios, sound-proofing is one of the biggest considerations of the fit- out. UTV Ireland also intends to film in the newsroom itself, in the green room and in another walled area of the Macken House base, which it is “almost treating as another set”, according to head of channel Mary Curtis.

The premises will house the television gallery, four edit suites, a graphics department and a voice- over booth, among other facilities necessary for a broadcast operation, while general management and UTV’s sales operation will also be in the building. The contractors will complete the fit-out next month.

The channel launches on January 1st, but the news shows make their debut on the first Monday of 2015, which falls on January 5th.

A male news anchor will shortly be appointed to join Alison Comyn on the core presenting team, while some news correspondents will act as presenter substitutes as required.

Most of the newsroom positions, including news, sport and business editor roles, will be filled in the coming weeks following the appointment earlier this month of Marcus Lehnen as head of news.

Lehnen is currently serving his notice as editor of RTÉ’s Six-One and Nine news bulletins.

About 600 people are understood to have applied to be an on- screen continuity announcer for the channel.

UTV is also in discussions with independent production companies in relation to the planned Pat Kenny-fronted show, which is expected to be filmed elsewhere – the UTV studio is not big enough for an audience – and will go on air a few months after the channel launches.

In its latest update to shareholders in August, Belfast-based UTV Media plc indicated that the UTV Ireland venture will make an overall loss of £2 million-£3 million in its first year of operation, but that it expects to move into profitability within the second half of that year.