|Broadcast area||Northern Ireland|
|Headquarters||City Quays 2, Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|Picture format|| 1080i HDTV |
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
|Timeshift service||ITV+1 UTV region (Freeview & Virgin Media)|
ITV+1 Granada region (Freesat & Sky)
|Sister channels|| ITV2 |
|Launched||31 October 1959 (as Ulster Television)|
|Former names||Ulster Television|
(until 4 June 1993)
| Freeview |
|Channel 3 (SD)|
Channel 34 (+1)
Channel 103 (HD)
| Virgin Media |
|Channel 103 (HD)|
Channel 113 (SD)
Channel 114 (+1)
| Freesat |
|Channel 103 (HD)|
Channel 111 (SD)
Channel 112 (+1)
| Sky |
|Channel 103 (HD)|
Channel 203 (+1)
Channel 803 (SD)
|Astra 2E||10906 V 22000 5/6|
|Astra 2G||11068 V 23000 3/4 (HD)|
UTV (formerly Ulster Television) is the ITV region covering Northern Ireland, ITV subsidiary and the former on-air name of the free-to-air television channel serving the area. It is run by ITV plc and is responsible for the regional news service and other programmes made principally for the area.
The modern TV channel, ITV is directly descended from the network of the same name, consisting of independent regional companies which were once the only commercial TV broadcasters in their area. UTV held the licence for Northern Ireland and first went on the air on October 31, 1959.
The company itself was formed in November 1958 to apply for the licence – advertised by the Independent Television Authority – and became the first indigenous broadcaster in Northern Ireland.The company later diversified and the UTV television operation was sold by parent UTV Media plc (now known as Wireless Group and part of News UK) to ITV plc in February 2016.
The governing body of the Independent Television network, the Independent Television Authority, first advertised the franchise for Northern Ireland in September 1958.Two consortia applied for the franchise; one led by the Duke of Abercorn and supported by The Belfast Telegraph and The Northern Whig newspapers, the other led by the Earl of Antrim and supported by The News Letter and Sir Laurence Olivier. The ITA eventually persuaded both applicants to merge their bids to obtain the new franchise, on the provision that a greater stake of investment in the station was offered to Catholic sources.
With the ITA request met, the group, under the name Ulster Television Limited, set out their plans for broadcasting; initially, the station would try to provide 20 minutes of locally sourced programmes per day, and the company arranged with ABC Television to sell advertising time and to maintain their studio premises at a former hemstitching warehouse in Havelock House on the Ormeau Road in Belfast.
Ulster Television went on air at 4pm on Halloween Day 1959,the 12th ITV station to launch. The station's opening was overseen by Lord Wakehurst, then Governor of Northern Ireland, and Sir Laurence Olivier introduced the opening ceremony. The station's first night of programming, introduced by duty announcer Adrienne McGuill, featured networked series such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and 77 Sunset Strip , two news bulletins from ITN and the 1949 feature film Task Force . Sir Laurence Olivier delivered the station's first epilogue, an excerpt from Joseph Addison's "The Spacious Firmament".
The following evening, UTV contributed a play to the Armchair Theatre series, "A Shilling for the Evil Day", produced in association with ABC Television.Earlier in the day, the station broadcast its first unofficial colour production – a film of images from across Northern Ireland was broadcast entitled Ulster Rich and Rare, produced by Lord Wakehurst.
At launch, Ulster Television employed a staff of 100 people including six presenters: Ivor Mills and Anne Gregg were chosen as the presenters of local magazine programme Roundabout, Adrienne McGuill, James Greene and Brian Durkin were the first continuity announcers, and former rugby union international Ernest Strathdee was recruited as the station's sports presenter.
Initially, Ulster Television's programmes would only be available to viewers located within range of the Black Mountain transmitter near Belfast.On the station's first night of programmes however, it was reported that some residents of Dublin, located over 100 miles away, had called the station to report poor picture reception. Coverage of UTV spread to Western areas of Northern Ireland when the Strabane transmitter opened in February 1963.
Ulster Television's UHF PAL colour service was launched with the opening of the UHF transmitter Divis in September 1970. [ citation needed ] In October 1988, the station began 24-hour broadcasting – the last station in the ITV network to do so. UTV was originally scheduled to take a service provided by Central in Birmingham, but a late minute decision to switch to Granada Television's sustaining feed, Night Time, led to a month-long delay.[ citation needed ]This was followed by two additional transmitters at Limavady (opened in 1975 ) and Brougher Mountain (in 1978 ). In the early 1980s it broadcast reduced hours when no schools programmes were being broadcast coming on air at 12 noon during the week, and closing down every evening at 23:30 – this remained in place until 1982.
At the company's annual general meeting in Belfast on 26 May 2006, the registered company name was changed from 'Ulster Television plc' to 'UTV plc'. The company believed that the existing name no longer reflected the full scope of the company's business.In a further change in October 2007, UTV underwent a corporate reorganisation which saw UTV shareholders swap their shares for shares in a new holding company, UTV Media plc, which took over UTV plc's shareholdings in the new media and radio subsidiaries. UTV Ltd. – the original Ulster Television Limited, now a wholly owned subsidiary of UTV Media – returned to being solely the operating company for the ITV franchise.
On 19 October 2015, UTV Media announced that it would sell its ITV franchise and the UTV brand to ITV plc for £100 million, subject to regulatory approval. ITV plc CEO Adam Crozier welcomed the news by saying:
UTV Television's strategic objectives are closely aligned with our own and we are very pleased that they are joining the ITV family.
The acquisition was finalised the following February.
ITV intended to fully retain the UTV brand in Northern Ireland, and not re-brand it under a standardised name (such as "ITV Northern Ireland"). On 11 July 2016, ITV plc announced that it would sell the UTV Ireland service to Virgin Media Ireland (which had bought Ireland's TV3 in 2015).
The former UTV Media group was restructured and rebranded as The Wireless Group, retaining its radio assets until June 2016, when the company was brought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. million.In July 2016, ITV plc sold UTV Ireland to Virgin Media Ireland – a subsidiary of Liberty Media – for €10
In October 2016, ITV announced plans to close UTV's Havelock House studios.UTV began broadcasting from a new broadcast centre at City Quays 2 in the Belfast Harbour Estate from 1 July 2018.
Local continuity announcements ended in April 2020, effectively rebranding the channel as ITV in line with all other ITV plc regions. This change was originally intended as a temporary response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was made permanent in November 2020. The UTV name continues to used for local programming, notably the news service UTV Live , and in on-air promotions for local non-news programmes.[ citation needed ]
UTV’s focus has always been on programmes made explicitly for viewers in Northern Ireland. But until the 1990s it also made a number of contributions to the ITV network and Channel 4 – many of which were in some way about the province.
Before ITV branding was introduced in 2020, UTV/Ulster Television used a number of different logos, or idents on-screen over the years.
Until April 2020, UTV was one of two stations in the ITV network – and the only one owned by ITV plc – to have its own continuity announcers.[ citation needed ]
UTV was also the last company in the network to retain in-vision continuity links, where the duty announcer appeared on-camera to introduce the evening's programmes. In later years, local continuity was generally restricted to evenings with in-vision links presented at weekends by senior announcer Julian Simmons. In 2009, the practice was restored to weekday evenings and presented by the entire announcing team.
Following the sale of UTV, ITV plc transferred most of the station's presentation operations from the Havelock House studios in Belfast to Red Bee Media in Chiswick, which provides playout services for most of ITV's channels.
The last live in-vision announcement was made by Simmons at 11.15 pm on Sunday 16 October 2016, marking the end of 57 years of local transmission.
Two of UTV's longest-serving announcers, Julian Simmons and Gillian Porter, were retained to pre-record out-of-vision continuity – with Aidan Browne providing relief cover – until 2 April 2020, when the channel began taking ITV-branded network presentation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[ citation needed ]
In November 2020, it was reported the announcing team had left UTV following a decision to switch permanently to network continuity. am on Thursday 2 April 2020.The last known announcement, voiced by Porter, aired at 5.59
In April 2021, a local voice-over started to be used over the ident before some local programmes.[ citation needed ] A new bumper with the UTV logo and the tagline "Part of ITV" was also shown for a short time before some – but not all – commercial breaks.
In common with the rest of the ITV Network, the station aired specially composed signature tunes as part of its daily start-up routine. From launch until 1971, the opening theme was Seamus by the American musician, composer and bandleader Van Phillips, who had earlier written the theme tune of the popular 1950s BBC radio science fiction drama Journey into Space. UTV's best-known theme was The Antrim Road, a classical symphony composed by Wayne Hill and Earl Ward, which was used between 1971 and 1983. It originally featured on The British Isles, an LP of orchestral arrangements of traditional and characteristic national tunes of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The album was released on the De Wolf label in 1971.
ITV’s service for the UTV region is available in HD – like most other ITV regions – but UTV was one of the first stations in the ITV network to offer a full HD simulcast in its days as an independent company.
UTV HD, a simulcast of UTV in high-definition, was launched on Virgin Media on 5 October 2010.It became available on Freeview when the digital switchover took place on 24 October 2012 and on Sky and Freesat on 4 November 2013.
For the first few months, the only true HD content came from the ITV network but after an upgrade local material including adverts started to be played out in HD .
In May 2011, the presentation infrastructure was upgraded to become fully HD-capable in readiness for the digital switchover in 2012.
A delayed version of the full ITV service for the UTV region is available on Freeview and Virgin Media.
The timeshift service – branded UTV+1 before the station adopted ITV branding in 2020 – launched at 8pm on 11 January 2011 on Freeview and Virgin Media. UTV +1 however didn’t launch on Sky and Freesat until 21 May 2018.
On 13 April 2021, ITV stopped broadcasting UTV +1 on satellite. ITV +1 Granada was added to Sky in Northern Ireland to replace UTV +1.
UTV Ireland was a short-lived sister station to UTV's Northern Ireland service, broadcasting to the Republic of Ireland.
The new channel launched on New Year's Day 2015, following approval by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
UTV Ireland was broadcast from the company's Dublin base at Macken House and carried a large amount of ITV's networked programming (including Emmerdale and Coronation Street , previously broadcast by TV3) alongside some bespoke programming, including Ireland Live, a twice nightly national news programme airing at 5.30 pm and 10 pm.
Ratings and advertising revenue were disappointing which meant the costs of the new station were greater than UTV Media had expected. This played a part in the company’s decision to sell the whole television business to ITV plc.
In July 2016, the channel was sold on by ITV to TV3 Group (now known as Virgin Media Television) which then, effectively, closed it.
It was replaced by a substantially new channel called Be3 on 9 January 2017. This new channel was rebranded as Virgin Media Three in August 2018. It focuses on children's and female-orientated programming.
ITV Channel Television, previously Channel Television, is a British television station which has served as the ITV contractor for the Channel Islands since 1962. It is based in Jersey and broadcasts regional programme for insertion into the network ITV schedule. Until November 2011, Channel Television was one of four ITV companies independent from ITV plc alongside the two STV regions in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland. The station has been owned by ITV plc since 2012 and the licence was transferred to ITV Broadcasting Limited in March 2017.
ITV is a British free-to-air television channel owned and operated by ITV plc. It provides the Channel 3 service across the country except in the central and northern areas of Scotland where STV holds the licences.
ITV Central, previously known as Central Independent Television and Carlton Central, ITV1 for Central England and commonly referred to as simply Central, is the Independent Television franchisee for the Midlands. It was created following the restructuring of ATV and began broadcasting on 1 January 1982. The service is owned and operated by ITV plc under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Historically Central made a major contribution to the ITV network schedule- especially in entertainment and drama - but today its main responsibility is the regional news service.
Carlton Television was the ITV franchise holder for London and the surrounding counties from 9.25am every Monday to 5.15pm every Friday. The company is now managed with London Weekend Television as a single entity, but the two companies are still separately licensed. The station is owned and operated by ITV plc under the licensee of "ITV Broadcasting Limited". Carlton has been branded on air as "ITV1" since 28 October 2002, and as "ITV" since 14 January 2013. Carlton legally exists as Carlton Television Ltd., currently listed on Companies House as a privately owned company. As Carlton's name has no relation to its region, its on-screen identity has been completely removed. Other regions have kept their original company name as a region name and in their local news name.
ITV Tyne Tees, previously known as Tyne Tees, Channel 3 North East and Tyne Tees Television, is the ITV television franchise for North East England and parts of North Yorkshire. The analogue signals in the Tyne Tees region were switched off in 2012, making the station, along with ITV London and UTV, one of the last ITV regions to solely broadcast digitally. Tyne-Tees Television Ltd and Tyne-Tees Television Holdings still legally exist. Each of these companies is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed at Companies House as a "Dormant company".
Scottish Television is the ITV franchisee for Central Scotland. The channel - the largest of the three ITV franchises in Scotland - has been in operation since 31 August 1957 and is the second oldest franchise holder still active.
ITV Border, previously Border Television and commonly referred to as simply Border, is the Channel 3 service provided by ITV Broadcasting Limited for the England/Scotland border region, covering most of Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and parts of Northumberland. The TV service previously covered the Isle of Man from 26 March 1965 until 15 July 2009.
ITV2 is a British free-to-air television channel owned by ITV Digital Channels, a division of ITV plc. It was launched on 7 December 1998. For a number of years, it had the largest audience share after the five analogue terrestrial stations, a claim now held by its sister service ITV3 both of which are freely available to a majority of households.
ITV Meridian is the holder of the ITV franchise for the South and South East of England. The station was launched at 12:00 am on 1 January 1993, replacing previous broadcaster Television South, and is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Meridian Broadcasting Ltd was one of several ITV plc-owned regional companies to have its legal name changed on 29 December 2006, when it became ITV Meridian Ltd. This company is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed with Companies House as a "Dormant company".
Julian Lynus Simmons is a Northern Irish broadcaster, best known for his work as a long-serving continuity announcer on UTV.
Wireless Group Limited is a radio and digital broadcasting network with headquarters in Belfast, Northern Ireland and with radio operations in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. It currently operates five stations in Ireland and 18 in the UK. The company was formerly known as UTV Media owned by UTV Television however, its television broadcasting services were sold to ITV plc in February 2016 and its radio, sales services and websites were spun off into a new company, Wireless, later purchased by News Corp.
Night Network, Night Time and Night Shift were names given to the overnight schedule of the ITV network in the United Kingdom. The first ITV company began 24-hour broadcasting in 1986, with all of the companies broadcasting through the night by the end of 1988. At first, individual companies created their own services, however before too long, many of the smaller ITV stations began simulcasting or networking services from others.
Frank Mitchell is a broadcaster from Northern Ireland. He retired as Weather Presenter at UTV on 31 March 2021. He is a presenter on the radio station U105.
Paul Thompson Clark MBE is a Northern Irish television presenter and journalist. He is currently a presenter and reporter for UTV Live.
Gerald "Gerry" Kelly is a Northern Irish broadcaster and journalist, best known for his presenting career at UTV where he presented the Friday night talk and variety show Kelly from 1989 until 2005.
The ITV television network in the United Kingdom began as a group of regional stations, each with their own identities. Each station used its own idents to create an individual identity until the late 1990s when ITV began to introduce a consolidated presentation package as part of a dedicated effort to unify its identity. This article looks at the history of presentation of ITV.
ITV Wales and West, previously known as Harlech Television (HTV), was the Independent Television franchise area in the United Kingdom until 31 December 2013, licensed to a broadcaster by the regulator Ofcom.
Virgin Media Three, also called Virgin Three, is an Irish free-to-air television channel owned by Virgin Media.
This is a timeline of the history of Ulster Television.
This is a timeline of television in Northern Ireland.