UTV (TV channel)

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This article is about the UK television channel. For the Indian conglomerate, see UTV Software Communications. For the Albanian TV channel, see UTV News. For other uses, see UTV.
UTV
UTV logo 2012.svg
UTV Current logo
Launched 31 October 1959
Network ITV
Owned by UTV Media
Picture format 576i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audience share ITV Network:
13.2%
0.9% (+1)
1.3% (HD) (January 2014 (2014-01), BARB)
Slogan "Part of U"
Country Northern Ireland, UK
Language English
Broadcast area Northern Ireland (licence area); Republic of Ireland
Headquarters Havelock House, Ormeau Road, Belfast
Formerly called Ulster Television
Timeshift service UTV +1
Website u.tv
Availability
Terrestrial
Freeview
(NI only)
Channel 3
Channel 33 (+1)
Channel 103 (HD)
Satellite
Freesat
(NI only)
Channel 103
Channel 119 (HD)
Sky
(NI only)
Channel 103 (SD/HD)
Channel 178 (SD)
Astra 2E 10906 V 22000 5/6
Astra 2F 11053 H 22000 5/6 (HD)
Cable
Virgin Media
(NI only)
Channel 103
Channel 113 (HD)
Channel 114 (+1)
UPC Ireland Channel 110
Channel 138 (HD)
Streaming media
UTV Player Catch up
(UTV region only)
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
Zattoo Watch live (UK only)
UPC Horizon Watch live (Ireland only)

UTV (formerly Ulster Television) is a commercial television broadcaster in Northern Ireland owned and operated by UTV Media plc as part of the UK-wide ITV Network.[1] Formed in November 1958 and appointed as programme contractor for the Independent Television Authority soon after, UTV was the first indigenous broadcaster in Northern Ireland[1] and is today available throughout the island of Ireland[1]

Reception[edit]

UTV can be watched via the following methods:

Terrestrial[edit]

The main transmitters which broadcast UTV's analogue and digital signals are based at Divis transmitting station outside Belfast,[2] Limavady transmitting station in County Londonderry[3] and Brougher Mountain transmitting station in County Tyrone.[4] Each transmitter has a series of relay stations.

UTV was the last of the ITV stations to cease broadcasting on analogue transmitters. The analogue signal was closed at just after 11:35 pm on Tuesday 23 October 2012.[5][6]

Satellite[edit]

  • Freesat (Northern Ireland only)
    • UTV – 103; 16:9 SDTV
    • UTV HD – 119; 1080i HDTV
  • Sky (Northern Ireland only)
    • UTV – 103; 16:9 SDTV
    • UTV HD – 178 (HD swap with 103); 1080i HDTV
  • Astra 2E
    • UTV – 10906 GHz, vertical polarisation, 22000 SR, 5/6 FEC; 16:9 SDTV[7]
  • Astra 2F
    • UTV HD – 11053 GHz, horizontal polarisation, 22000 SR, 5/6 FEC; 1080i HDTV[7]

Cable and MMDS[edit]

  • Virgin Media (Northern Ireland only)
    • UTV – 103; 16:9 SDTV
    • UTV HD – 113; 1080i HDTV
    • UTV +1 – 114; 16:9 SDTV
  • UPC Ireland (Republic of Ireland only)
    • UTV – 110; 16:9 SDTV (on digital cable and MMDS services, various frequencies on analogue cable services)
    • UTV HD – 138; 1080i HDTV

History[edit]

UTV Player screenshot

The governing body of the Independent Television network, the Independent Television Authority, first advertised the franchise for Northern Ireland in September 1958.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[8]

Ulster TV HQ, Havelock House (August 2009)

Ulster Television went on air at 4.45 pm on Saturday 31 October 1959.[9] The station's opening was overseen by Lord Wakehurst, then Governor of Northern Ireland, and Sir Laurence Olivier introduced the opening ceremony.[9] 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,[10] 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".[10]

The following evening, UTV contributed a play to the Armchair Theatre series, A Shilling for the Evil Day, produced in association with ABC Television.[9] 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.[11]

Initially, Ulster Television's programmes would only be available to viewers located within range of the Black Mountain transmitter near Belfast.[12] 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.[8] Coverage of UTV spread to Western areas of Northern Ireland when the Strabane transmitter opened in February 1963.[12]

Ulster Television's UHF PAL colour service was launched with the opening of the UHF transmitter Divis in September 1970.[8] This was followed by two additional transmitters at Limavady (opened in 1975[8]) and Brougher Mountain (in 1978[8]). The station was the last in the ITV network to begin 24-hour transmission in 1988.

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.[13] 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 – has returned to being solely the operating company for the ITV franchise.[14]

Programmes[edit]

Current/recent series[edit]

Notable programmes shown on the ITV network[edit]

Contributions to series on the ITV network[edit]

Notable programmes shown on Channel 4[edit]

Notable regional programmes[edit]

Regional News programmes[edit]

Identity and presentation[edit]

Since 1959, Ulster Television have used different logos, or idents on-screen:

  • 1959 The station's first on-screen logo was an oscilloscope pattern made up of seven dot joined together by six lines. The logo animated to a jingle based on the local folk tune The Mountains of Mourne. According to UTV's website, the original logo was designed as part of a competition, and the winner among over 450 entrants was Mr Roy Irwin of Ballycarry.[61]
  • 1970 With the imminent launch of UHF colour broadcasts, Ulster Television redesigned its first logo.[61] – the oscilloscope pattern was retained; but the dots were removed, and the lines were encased in a television-screen shape. Monochrome and colour versions of this ident were produced, the colour using a yellow logo and text on a blue background, which were adopted as the station's colour scheme. UTV's ident at this time did not animate and was not accompanied by a jingle. The logo type introduced on this ident was retained until 1993.
  • 1980 To celebrate their 21st anniversary, UTV commissioned a new ident featuring a model the station logo embedded on four faces of a cube, coated in silver with a pole skewering the top and bottom of the cube. This model was then filmed on video with a black cloth background as it revolved on a turntable. When it appeared on screen, it was accompanied by a synthesised jingle, and the words "Ulster Television" wiped on screen in yellow text. The ident made its on-screen debut on 31 October 1980,[62] and was used until c. September 1988.
  • 1987 In c. 7 September 1987, to coincide with the launch of the stations's new evening magazine programme, Six Tonight, a new ident was used to introduce the programme, featuring a computer animated silver station logo on a blue/green backdrop. After five seconds, the logo faded into the background as the titles of Six Tonight began. This ident, UTV's first attempt at a CGI ident, was later adapted as a temporary station ident in the last few months of 1988, with a video freeze used as the logo sank into the background.
  • 1989 In January 1989 a revised computer animation was introduced and the last to feature the logo first seen in 1970 and the "Ulster Television" name.[63] The ident began with a panning shot over a grey and white plate, with a light blue background at the back. The Ulster Television logo rises out from the plate, and the lines of the oscilloscope pattern are formed with a wipe. In this ident, the lines of the oscilloscope are yellow, with the rest of the logo (the television screen shape) in blue. When the lines are formed, the logo turns and reveals on screen, as a grey banner flies in underneath bearing the words "Ulster Television" and settles underneath the station logo. This ident was accompanied by a new jingle, and was used until 4 June 1993.
UTV logo introduced in 1993
  • 1993 At 18.00 on 4 June 1993,[64] UTV officially unveiled a new logo. This consisted of an italicised Times Roman capital U forming on screen from different component parts, settling on a blue and yellow plate with "TV" written in italicised red Futura Condensed text. A new jingle was also introduced with a distinct Celtic sound. Since the start of 1993, continuity announcements and trailers referred increasingly to "UTV", and the station's news service was rebranded as UTV Live. With the new logo, the use of "Ulster Television" to identify the station was consigned to history.
  • 1996 UTV introduced a new series of idents in October 1996, which showcased scenic locations in Northern Ireland. These include the Giant's Causeway, a waterfall at Glenarriff, and Portaferry harbour. These are supplemented in 1998 with a set of idents featuring people playing the UTV jingle on various musical instruments. Some of the idents featured UTV personalities.
  • 2000 On 1 July 2000, the day when programme presentation and commercials shown on the four main UK television channels switched from the 4:3 aspect ratio to 14:9 on analogue broadcasts and 16:9 on digital broadcasts, UTV introduced a new set of idents using footage from the 1996 "landscape" idents, the break filler films used on its short-lived sister channel TV You, and a UTV corporate advertisement where a shoal of fish grouped together to form the UTV logo. This collection of idents were the first to be created and transmitted in 16:9 aspect ratio, on digital terrestrial and digital cable providers. This was the last set of idents which used the 1993 logo, and they were phased out shortly before Christmas 2000.
  • 2000 The 1993 logo is replaced with a similar flatter and wider logo. The "U" is rendered in yellow on a blue oblong, with the "TV" in red on a yellow oblong contained inside the blue oblong. This remains the present station logo. Its first use was in UTV's Christmas ident in 2000.[65] In January 2001,[66] a new series of idents shot at various locations across Northern Ireland, including the Silent Valley Reservoir in County Down, Great Victoria Street in Belfast and the Hands Across the Divide sculpture at the Craigavon Bridge, Derry. This was complemented by further idents in 2002 featuring people walking towards the camera and touching the screen with their fingers to make the UTV logo appear.
  • 2002 On 28 October 2002, most of the regional ITV companies adopted a common look with the ITV1 brand replacing the various station logos. This was marked with a series of idents showing actors, presenters and newsreaders associated with ITV appearing in idents. At the same time, UTV decided to adopt these idents, but replaced the ITV logo with their own station logo. The soundtrack used on these idents was identical to those heard on the ITV network versions.[67] This is the nearest that UTV have come to using identical idents to the rest of the ITV network. Around Christmas 2002, UTV broadcast a similar collection of idents showcasing their own presenting talent, shown in addition to the national idents.[68] By early 2003, the network and local celebrity idents were phased out, and a generic ident showing the UTV logo on an animated blue background was used in all junctions.[68]
  • 2003 UTV replaces its network-inspired graphics in November 2003 with a series landscape films of Northern Ireland in their idents, in the form of a panorama shot as the camera revolved around a location.[69] Among the scenes used in this series of UTV idents included the Mourne Mountains, Enniskillen and Lurgan Park.[70] These idents primarily used one of the ident jingles until 3 November 2005, when UTV reprised its 1993–2002 station jingle.[71]
  • 2006 To coincide with the introduction of a new identity across ITV plc stations on Monday 16 January 2006, UTV replaced its 2003 idents with a brand new set.[72] The new idents featured newly recorded films shot across Northern Ireland, again in the form of panoramas.[72] The landscape films used in these idents were updated in July 2007 and October 2008,[73] with the background of each ident changing from black to white in December 2008.[74] Special variations of the UTV idents were used to promote the 2006 North West 200 event,[75] 2006 Special Olympics,[75] the 2007 Rugby World Cup[76] and the UTV Rewind series.[77] Further updates to this collection of idents have seen new landscape films and changes in the background design.

Continuity announcers[edit]

Current announcers

UTV is the only company in the ITV network to still broadcast in-vision continuity announcements, where the announcer appears in front of the camera to introduce the evening's programmes.[79] Ballantine, Browne, Neill and Porter also present UTV Live news bulletins.[80]

Former announcers/newscasters[81]

Station theme tunes[edit]

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 the English musician Wayne Hill, which was used between 1971 and 1983.

UTV HD[edit]

UTV HD logo

UTV HD, a simulcast of UTV in high-definition, launched on Virgin Media channel 113 on 5 October 2010.[82] On 5 March 2012, UTV Media announced it had signed new network arrangements for the provision of Channel 3 programmes and services with ITV plc. Included in the agreement is a deal which ensured the distribution of UTV HD on Freeview when the digital switchover took place on 24 October 2012 and on Sky and Freesat on 4 November 2013.[83][84]

Currently UTV's acquisition and presentation infrastructure is SD only; all HD content is line-fed to UTV in Belfast from Technicolor Network Services' transmission facility at Chiswick Park, with UTV's presentation and local content being upscaled and switched into the transmission chain for UTV HD using a simple A/B switcher.

In May 2011, the presentation infrastructure was upgraded to become fully HD-capable in readiness for the digital switchover in 2012.

UTV +1[edit]

On 4 January 2011, Freeview announced details for the launch of ITV1+1, together with the possibility that both STV and UTV will launch their own timeshift services, STV +1 and UTV +1 in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.[85] UTV later confirmed that it would launch UTV +1 at 8 pm on 11 January 2011.[86] The channel is available to Freeview viewers on channel 33 and Virgin Media cable customers on channel 114. The channel is not currently available on the Freesat and Sky satellite services.

UTV Ireland[edit]

UTV Ireland will be a sister channel of UTV (Northern Ireland)and is set to launch January 1, 2015 serving the Republic of Ireland market with its own programming marking an expansion of the television part of the business from franchise to a whole Ireland television broadcaster, having been approved by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.[87] UTV Ireland Limited, subsidiary of UTV Media will broadcast from studios near or at its ROI office at Macken House, Mayor Street Upper, Dublin 1. It has made appointments to its managerial team in recent months, much staff coming from TV3 Ireland and has invited independent producers to a briefing meeting.[88][89] TV3 Ireland is considered its main competitor with media banter already hotting up prior to launch regarding the loss of UK soaps from TV3's schedules in 2015 [90]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]