TV3 to build €4m studio for live audience shows


TV3 IS to double the size of its existing facility in Ballymount, Dublin, with a new studio capable of being used for high definition television.

The 500sq m studio will cost between €4 million and €5 million and will be part of an adjacent building which will also house a number of independent production companies.

TV3 chief executive David McRedmond said the new studio, which will be ready towards the middle of next year, will be critical in ensuring the station reaches the goal of producing 50 per cent of its own content. It is currently at 40 per cent.

The new studio will allow TV3 to host programmes in front of a live audience and screen programmes in high definition.

At present, all of TV3’s live output, including IrelandAM, Midweek, Tonight with Vincent Browneand the Champions’ League coverage comes from a single studio which is in operation 18 hours a day.

The new studio will be located in a building adjacent to its present premises in Ballymount and amounts to a significant investment by Doughty Hanson, the venture capital company which paid €230 million for TV3 in 2006.

Mr McRedmond anticipates the studio will be heavily used by independent production companies and will allow them to export many of their programmes abroad.

The model of a major studio attached to a commercial television station was well-established elsewhere, he said, citing Granada studios’ attachment to ITV as an example. “There is a worldwide shortage of television content. Ireland is ideally placed,” he added.

In the latest completed accounts for 2009, TV3 made an operating profit of €1.9 million following a precipitous decline in advertising revenue in 2008, the last year of the boom.

The operating loss of Tullamore Beta, TV3’s parent company, doubled to €135 million as a result of writedown on the goodwill value of the business by €118.7 million, reflecting the downturn in the economy.

Mr McRedmond said revenues were up 6 per cent last year and advertising spot revenue growth is up 4 per cent this year, but the recovery in advertising revenue was, he said, being stymied by RTÉ.

The rival broadcaster had fixed the cost of television advertising when the recession first began, and rates were between 10 and 15 per cent too low – even given the state of the economy.

A long-time critic of the dual-funding model which funds RTÉ, he urged the Department of Communications to act decisively and create an RTÉ channel solely devoted to public service broadcasting, with no advertising.

“The Department of Communications is moving at a pace that is completely ignorant of the challenges that the country is going through,” he said.

TV3 will announce its autumn schedule later today, with several new programmes.