UTV Radio is a UK media company headquartered in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the owner of several radio stations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a growing branch of UTV Media. The Wireless Group had its British origins in the company Talk Radio, named after the national AM station around which it was formed, which was later purchased by TalkCo, a consortium whose members included MVI, News International, Radio Investments and LMC Radio headed by chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun newspaper. It bought the Wireless Group in 1998 for £15.5m.
The company became the fifth largest UK radio group when it purchased The Radio Partnership in 1999, gaining control of its nine local commercial stations. In 2000 the station Talk Radio was relaunched as talkSPORT.
In May 2005, it was announced that the Northern Ireland media company UTV plc (now UTV Media) had made an agreed offer to buy the company, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. In June 2005 the takeover proceeded, with McKenzie being replaced by UTV executive Scott Taunton. On 12 September 2005 it was announced that the company was to be rebranded as UTV Radio. This brand was to bring together UTV's new acquisitions along with its existing stations in Ireland. The acquisition of Juice FM in Liverpool was announced on the same date.
UTV Radio GB
Today's Best Mix is the slogan that UTV Radio GB runs across its FM stations. Each station broadcasts a mix of classic, chart and contemporary hits (the balance between which depends on the station's format). UTV stations that play an adult contemporary playlist broadcast adult-orientated classic, chart and contemporary hits, while stations that have a contemporary hit radio playlist are aimed at a younger audience by broadcasting mostly current chart and contemporary hits along with a minority of older tracks (variation Adult CHR/Top 40). UTV also owns AM stations that have a soft AC/classic hits format which have sister stations with the contemporary hit radio format; they are held on their local DAB multiplex along with their contemporary counterparts. UTV's national and independent stations do not broadcast the adult contemporary, contemporary hit radio or soft AC/classic hits formats.
UTV Radio GB produces some specialist network shows which broadcast throughout the majority of its UK stations regardless of whether the show's playlist conflicts with that of the local station's daily music format.
UK national stations
Great Britain local FM stations
Contemporary hit radio
Great Britain local AM stations
Soft AC/classic hits
UTV operates three multiplexes jointly with Bauer Radio.
UTV Radio Ireland
UTV Radio Ireland owns a number of independent local radio contractors - FM104 in Dublin, Live 95FM in Limerick, Q102 in Dublin, LMFM in Louth/Meath, and 96FM County Sound in Cork, which incorporates a separate radio entity, 103fm - itself subdivided across County Cork.
In May 2004, UTV announced that it had entered the competition for a new ILR franchise for Belfast, Northern Ireland. In March 2005 the Office of Communications announced that it had awarded the franchise to UTV. U105 - which began broadcasting on 14 November 2005 - is UTV's first radio station in Northern Ireland. It is available on FM Radio in Belfast and on the Freeview platform in Northern Ireland. It is based in Havlock House, sharing premises with UTV Television. The station is primarily aimed at the over-45 age group.
UTV sells airtime for its ILR stations through its subsidiary UTV Radio Solutions (formerly BMS). This competes with the major ILR network sales house, Independent Radio Sales, and also sells airtime for Galway Bay FM and Beat 102-103, the first Independent Regional Radio station in Ireland, covering the south east. (Ironically UTV does not itself sell airtime on UTV Television, it is handled by ITV Sales).
Local FM stations