Wireless Group

Last updated

Wireless Group Limited
FormerlyUTV Media
Type Subsidiary
IndustryBroadcasting
Founded7 June 2007
(as Beechgrove Trading Limited)
Headquarters Belfast, Northern Ireland
Key people
Scott Taunton
(Chief Executive)
RevenueDecrease2.svg £116 m (2014) [1]
Parent News UK & Ireland Ltd
Website WirelessGroup.co.uk

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.

Contents

In June 2016, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp reached an agreement to buy the company. [2] [3] The sale was completed in September 2016. [4] Prior to the acquisition, Wireless Group was a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index.

History

Background

The former Wireless Group headquarters at Havelock House. The company relocated to City Quays 2 in 2018. Havelock House, Belfast.jpg
The former Wireless Group headquarters at Havelock House. The company relocated to City Quays 2 in 2018.

The current UTV Limited (originally Ulster Television plc), which began in 1959 as an ITV franchise holder in Northern Ireland, purchased ISP Direct Net Access in March 2000 for £4.4m, rebranding it as UTV Internet and later UTV Connect. The service expanded into telephone market under UTV Talk in August 2004 and also provided broadband and fibre optic packages for Northern Ireland, the Republic and the rest of the UK. [5] The service was sold to Rainbow Communications and Vodafone Ireland in 2014.

The company also set up an online car dealership UTV Drive, created in partnership with Abbey Insurance, which was sold in 2014. [6]

Further expansion took place with the move into radio, starting in Cork with 96FM and C103 in 2001. Further acquisitions were undertaken over the next decade, with the largest investment being the purchase of The Wireless Group in 2005 for £97m, boosting its radio portfolio with additional local stations, digital radio multiplexes and national station Talksport. In 2005, the group also launched its first station, U105, which broadcasts to the Belfast area, and purchased Juice FM in Liverpool .

With the expansion, turnover increased, with 2005 being up 46% on 2004, pre-tax profits rising by 12%, and employment up by 500 people to more than double the figure in the previous year. In 2006, total sales were £113.6m of which the radio division accounted for 54%, television 37% and 9% from new media. 48% of operating profits were earned in the radio side of the business, with 47% derived from television and 5% from new media.

Reorganisation of UTV and proposed mergers

Following shareholder approval, Ulster Television plc changed its name to UTV plc in June 2006. [7] Then, on 16 August 2007, a re-organisation of the group was proposed, with the existing UTV plc, holding the ITV franchise only, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of new holding company, UTV Media plc, and the remaining businesses transferred to the new holding company. The change was approved at an extraordinary general meeting on 19 September and came into effect on 15 October 2007, with shareholders receiving a 1:1 exchange of stock from the old to new company. [8] [9] The company, established on 1 June 2007 as Beechgrove Trading Limited, changed its name to UTV Media Limited on 13 August 2007, and to UTV Media plc on 21 August 2007.

In August and September 2006, the company made two merger proposals to STV Group plc, operator of the northern and central Scottish ITV franchises as STV. The latter proposal would have given SMG shareholders 52% of the merged company. On 20 September 2006, the plans were abandoned after SMG rejected the offer as unacceptable. [10] However, on 10 January 2007, the two companies announced that they had agreed a merger, with SMG shareholders to receive 46% of the merged company and UTV 54%. [11] After the details were expected to be finalised before the end of January, the deal was put on hold and then called off by SMG on 28 February 2007. [12]

UTV Ireland and further radio expansion

In January 2015, the company launched UTV Ireland, carrying many of ITV's programming including Coronation Street and Emmerdale , which had been previously broadcast in Ireland by TV3. The station produces some home-grown programming, including the twice-nightly national news programme Ireland Live .

On 27 March 2015, it was confirmed that Sound Digital, which was 30% owned by the company, had been successful in its bid for the second national digital radio multiplex in the UK, which would be launched in 2016. As part of the bid, the company would expand its Talksport station with new sister stations Talksport 2 and Talkradio, as well as running a relaunched Virgin Radio UK. [13] The multiplex was launched on 29 February 2016, with the new stations launching over the following month less talkBUSINESS, which was replaced by Share Radio on the multiplex. [14]

Sale of UTV to ITV plc

On 19 October 2015, it was announced that ITV plc would acquire UTV's ITV franchise and UTV Ireland for £100 million, subject to regulatory approval. UTV retained its radio operations, but was required to rename itself after including the UTV brand in the sale. [15]

The sale to ITV plc was completed on 29 February 2016, when the company also rebranded as Wireless Group plc. [16] On 30 June 2016 Rupert Murdoch's News Corp announced an agreement to purchase the company for all-cash worth between $220–296 million. [2] [17] The sale was completed on 26 September 2016. [4] [18]

Financial Results

In May 2019, it was reported that Wireless Radio (ROI) Ltd last year recorded pre-tax losses of €2.23m and this followed pre-tax losses of €4.33m for the preceding 18 months. [19]

Operations

The company splits its operations into three divisions, Radio GB, Radio Ireland and Digital.

Radio GB

Formed from the original Wireless Group purchase, the division has its origins from Talk Radio, the owner of the station of the same name, later renamed Talksport in 2000. A consortium including MVI, News International, Radio Investments and LMC Radio, headed by chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie, under the name TalkCo, purchased the group in 1998 for £15.5m. The company expanded when it purchased The Radio Partnership in 1999, gaining control of its nine local commercial stations and becoming the fifth largest radio company in the UK.

On 8 February 2019, it was announced that the local stations would be sold to Bauer Radio. [20]

Radio Ireland

Other divisions

The company published a free, London-based men's magazine called Sport until 2017.

Wireless Group also owns the digital agency Zesty and the internet hosting provider Tibus. [21]

Related Research Articles

ITV Digital Former British digital terrestrial TV service

ITV Digital was a British digital terrestrial television broadcaster which launched a pay-TV service on the world's first digital terrestrial television network. Its main shareholders were Carlton Communications plc and Granada plc, owners of two franchises of the ITV network. Starting as ONdigital in 1998, the service was re-branded as ITV Digital in July 2001.

ITV (TV network) TV network in the United Kingdom

ITV is a British free-to-air television network with its headquarters in London. It was launched in 1955 as Independent Television to provide competition to BBC Television, which had been established in 1932. ITV is the oldest commercial network in the UK. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, its legal name has been Channel 3 to distinguish it from the other analogue channels at the time, namely BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4.

Sky Group Media and telecommunications conglomerate based in London, England

Sky Group Limited is a British media and telecommunications conglomerate, which is a subsidiary of Comcast, and headquartered in London, England. It has operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Sky is Europe's largest media company and pay-TV broadcaster by revenue, with 23 million subscribers and more than 31,000 employees as of 2019. The company is primarily involved in satellite television, producing and broadcasting. The current CEO is Dana Strong.

ITV (TV channel) British free-to-air television channel

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 plc British-based media company

ITV plc is a British media company that holds 13 of the 15 regional television licences that make up the ITV network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom.

Talksport, owned by Wireless Group, is a sports radio station and the Global Audio Partner of the Premier League.

UTV (TV channel) Television channel in Northern Ireland

UTV 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.

Arqiva is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure, broadcast transmission and smart meter facilities in the United Kingdom. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, just outside Winchester. Its main customers are broadcasters and utility companies, and its main asset is a network of circa. 1,500 radio and television transmission sites. It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. Arqiva is a patron of the Radio Academy.

Bauer Radio is a UK-based radio division of the Bauer Media Group.

STV (TV channel) Television channel in Scotland

STV is a Scottish free-to-air television channel owned by STV Group and is a part of the ITV network. It operates the Central Scotland and Northern Scotland Channel 3 licences, formerly known as Scottish Television and Grampian Television respectively.

Virgin Media Television (Ireland) Irish television company

Virgin Media Television Ltd is a commercial television company in Ireland, based in Dublin. Launched in 1998 as TV3 Television Network, the TV3 Group was formed in January 2009. The company was acquired by Liberty Global in 2015, and the channels were rebranded to Virgin Media Television in 2018.

The following is a list of events relating to television in Ireland from 2006.

The following is a list of events relating to television in Ireland from 2007.

This is a list of events in Scottish television from 2006.

News Corp American multinational mass media company

News Corporation, stylized as News Corp, is an American media and publishing company operating across digital real estate information, news media, book publishing, and cable television. It was formed in 2013 as a spin-off of the original News Corporation. The company is incorporated under the Delaware General Corporation Law and headquartered in New York City. Its notable assets include Dow Jones & Company, News UK, News Corp Australia, REA Group, Realtor.com, and book publisher HarperCollins.

STV Group Scottish media company

STV Group plc is a media company based in Glasgow, Scotland. Beginning as a television broadcaster in 1957, the company expanded into newspapers, advertising and radio; after completing a restructuring in 2010, STV Group is active in broadcast television, video-on-demand and television production. The company is a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index.

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 Scottish Television.

This is a timeline of the history of commercial television in the Republic of Ireland.

References

  1. "Preliminary Announcement" (PDF). UTV Media. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  2. 1 2 Gallivan, Rory (25 June 2016). "News Corp Buys Wireless Group for $296 Million". The Wall Street Journal. New York.
  3. Lodderhose, Diana (1 July 2016). "News Corp. Moves into Radio, Acquires U.K. Giant Wireless Group". Variety.
  4. 1 2 Mayhew, Freddy (26 September 2016). "Rupert Murdoch's News Corp completes Wireless Group takeover". Press Gazette. London. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  5. "The ITV Hub".
  6. UTV Drive
  7. UTV Plc Archived 10 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine – UTV Notice of 2005 AGM
  8. "UTV PLC: Result of EGM". Investegate. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  9. "UTV Media PLC: First Day of Dealings". Investegate. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  10. "UTV scraps plans for STV merger". BBC News. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  11. Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew (11 December 2006). "SMG comes cap in hand back to UTV". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  12. Crawley-Boevey, Sarah (28 February 2007). "SMG and UTV call off merger plan". Media Week. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  13. "Sound Digital wins national DAB multiplex". RadioToday. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  14. "A dozen stations launched on new DAB multiplex". RadioToday. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  15. "UTV Media agrees sale of TV stations to ITV for £100m". BBC News. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  16. McDonnell, Francess (29 February 2016). "UTV rebrands as Wireless Group and shifts focus to radio". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  17. "Talksport owner Wireless Group bought by News Corp". BBC News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  18. "News UK announces the completion of Wireless Group acquisition" (Press release). News UK. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  19. Deegan, Gordon (8 May 2019). "Murdoch media group records €3.4m earnings". Irish Independent. Dublin.
  20. "Bauer buys Wireless Group's local radio stations". RadioToday. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  21. "UTV buys Dublin-based PR agency Simply Zesty". BBC News . BBC. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2016.