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Virgin Media Three

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Virgin Media Three
NetworkVirgin Media Television
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
OwnerVirgin Media Ireland
Sister channelsVirgin Media One
Virgin Media Two
Virgin Media More
Virgin Media Four
Launched1 January 2015; 9 years ago (1 January 2015)
(as UTV Ireland)
Former namesUTV Ireland (2015–2017)
be3 (2017–2018)
SaorviewChannel 6
Streaming media
Virgin TV AnywhereWatch live (Ireland only)
Virgin Media PlayerWatch live (Ireland only)

Virgin Media Three, also called Virgin Three,[1][2][3] is an Irish free-to-air television channel owned by Virgin Media Television.

The channel was first launched by Northern Irish broadcaster UTV Media on 1 January 2015 as UTV Ireland; it primarily carried programmes licensed from British broadcaster ITV, along with some local news and lifestyle programmes. In July 2016, after ITV plc acquired UTV's television business and ITV franchise, UTV Ireland was sold to Virgin Media Ireland and merged into its TV3 division; it was rebranded as be3 on 9 January 2017, which primarily focuses on programmes targeting women.

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UTV Ireland logo (1 January 2015 – 8 January 2017)

On 6 November 2013, UTV Media—owner of UTV, the Northern Ireland franchise of UK television network ITV—announced that it had submitted a proposal to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to operate a channel in the Republic of Ireland known as UTV Ireland. Ahead of the announcement, UTV reached an agreement to acquire the Republic of Ireland broadcast rights to several key ITV programmes from ITV Studios, including Coronation Street and Emmerdale—replacing TV3; pending regulatory approval, UTV planned to launch the new channel by early-2015.[4] UTV planned to have a national news service at launch, leveraging resources from its radio stations in the Republic.[5] It planned to employ around 100 people, with 30 of these jobs being based around the country.[6]

TV3's CEO David McRedmond remarked that losing rights to ITV's soaps to UTV Ireland would allow it to reallocate their cost towards domestic programmes.[7] Nevertheless, in January 2014 The Sunday Times reported that TV3 had launched a lobbying campaign opposing UTV's license proposal.[8] On 27 February 2014, the BAI approved UTV's license proposal.[9][10] On 29 April 2014, Mary Curtis became UTV Ireland's first chief.[10] On 1 December 2014, UTV Ireland was granted Public Service Status by Minister for Communications Alex White, allowing it to appear on Saorview.[11]

UTV Ireland launched at 7:25 p.m. on 1 January 2015; its opening night of programmes featured a New Year's Day-themed launch special, Out with the Old — In with the U, which was hosted by veteran personality Pat Kenny and featured appearances by Hozier, Tommy Bowe, and other network personalities.[12][13] Five days later, the channel launched its national news service, Ireland Live.[14]

In June 2015, UTV Group reported losses of €16.2 million on the channel due to poor daytime and weekend ratings performance, and it was reported that the network was planning a revamp of its branding and lineup within the coming months. Managing Director Michael Wilson defended UTV Ireland's performance, noting that Coronation Street and Emmerdale were drawing larger audiences on UTV Ireland than on previous broadcasters, but admitted that their staff had gone "under the bonnet" to find means of improving the network's overall performance.[15]-

On 19 October 2015, ITV plc announced its intent to acquire UTV Group's television business, including UTV Ireland, for £100 million, subject to regulatory approval.[16] In December 2015, the deal was approved by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.[17] The sale was completed on 29 February 2016, with the remainder of UTV Group operating as radio broadcaster Wireless Group (later sold to News UK).[18][19]

On 11 July 2016, ITV plc announced that it had sold UTV Ireland to TV3 Group, a division of Virgin Media Ireland, for €10 million. As part of the deal, TV3 Group inherited UTV Ireland's ten-year programme supply contract with ITV (effectively re-uniting these rights with its previous owner). ITV director of operations and strategy Christy Swords stated that "Launching UTV Ireland last year represented a significant achievement by the teams in Dublin and Belfast in challenging circumstances", but that when ITV plc took over the network, they "concluded that bringing TV3 and UTV Ireland together under common ownership offers the best prospect of delivering a strong and sustainable Irish commercial broadcaster, underpinned by a long-term programming agreement with ITV".[19] Virgin Media Ireland had acquired TV3 in 2015, and had begun to make major investments in the broadcaster.[19]

Be3 logo (9 January 2017 – 30 August 2018)

On 22 November 2016 it was announced that Coronation Street and Emmerdale would move back to TV3 beginning 5 December 2016.[20] The next day, it was announced that UTV Ireland would be re-launched as be3 on 9 January 2017, as part of a wider re-branding of all three TV3 channels with new positioning and lineups. The re-branded channel would be primarily aimed towards women, and it was also announced that TV3's children's strand would also be moved to the channel. In the lead-up to the re-branding, the channel's operations were consolidated at the TV3 Group's main studio in Ballymount. Many of UTV Ireland's employees were laid off, but 40 new positions were offered within the TV3 Group.[21][22]

In June 2018, it was announced that be3 would be rebranded as Virgin Media Three on 30 August 2018, as part of a rebranding of all three TV3 channels under the Virgin Media brand.[23]


When branded as UTV Ireland, the channel relied heavily on acquired ITV programming, but also broadcast some Irish-produced programming. Under the be3 brand, the channel was targeted towards women.[24][21]

News and current affairs

Ireland Live was UTV Ireland's national news and current affairs service, airing two programmes at 5:30 and 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, and news cut-ins during Good Morning Britain. The station did not broadcast any weekend news programming, apart from morning weather forecasts.

Following the re-launch as be3, Ireland Live was replaced by the relaunched 3News Ireland service. Mick McCaffrey, who led the Ireland Live news operation, was retained and made head of the new division, which produces bulletins for all three TV3 channels.[25]


3e's children's strand 3Kids moved to be3 upon its launch.[21][24]


Pat Kenny, former host of The Late Late Show, presented a chat show called Pat Kenny in the Round, which was axed after one series.[26] Kenny also hosted the station's launch night special, Out with the Old – In with the U, on New Year's Day 2015.[12]

In July 2015, UTV Ireland began airing a weekly entertainment news bulletin with the station's weather presenter, Jenny Buckley, called The Pulse. The programme was sponsored by Diet Coke. The feature was extended into a weekly 30-minute magazine show in January 2016.[27] As be3, Xposé moved over to the channel on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.


Two of UTV's feature local programmes in Northern Ireland were adapted for viewers in the Republic. The long running travelogue series Lesser Spotted Ulster, presented by Joe Mahon, was rebranded to Lesser Spotted Journeys to focus on locations within the Republic of Ireland, additionally the agricultural programme Rare Breed was also adjusted to accommodate its audience in the Republic.

Acquired programming

As UTV Ireland

UTV's decision to enter the Republic's market followed the acquisition of broadcast rights to ITV programmes such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale from rivals TV3. UTV's Northern Ireland service had enjoyed a large following in the Republic up until the 2000s but its audience share had diminished following the arrival of Sky TV, which does not carry UTV. The company had profited greatly from high audience ratings in the Republic due to spillover and cable connections in the 1980s and 1990s.

By and large, UTV Ireland replicated the Northern Ireland service, with some variations due to domestic programme rights for programmes not produced by ITV Studios (such as The X Factor, whose rights were held by TV3). The Graham Norton Show also aired on the channel on a delay from its UK broadcast on BBC One. Daytime programmes such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women also aired. The Jeremy Kyle Show has previously aired on TV3, while Loose Women also aired on TV3 for a period during 2008. ITV's flagship breakfast show, Good Morning Britain, was added to the station's lineup in February 2015. With Ireland Live updates being shown at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:10. Good Morning Britain simulcasts on the channel ended on Friday 6 January 2017.[28] UTV Ireland also utilised ITV's back catalogue of programming, including drama series such as Vera, All3Media's Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. When ITV announced they were buying UTV Ireland, ITV CEO Adam Crozier said he intended to strengthen the channel further with high-quality ITV programming at its core.

As be3

be3 airs many of ITV's drama programming and live studio shows, following a 10-year agreement between ITV plc and the TV3 Group. The channel also airs repeats of US court series Judge Judy and several ITV shows, such as Loose Women (live), Dickinson's Real Deal, Surprise Surprise, Who's Doing the Dishes?, The Cube and The Chase.

Acquired drama series include Wentworth and Bull. It also airs ITV dramas and comedies such as Benidorm, Doc Martin, Endeavour, Birds of a Feather, Midsomer Murders, Prime Suspect, Grantchester and Vera.

As Virgin Media Three

After positioned as a channel with a focus on mainly airing dramas from the ITV library such as Heartbeat, Inspector Morse and Lewis. As of 2024, Like Virgin Media Four, The schedule also has repeats of programming from other Virgin Media channels, mainly from the libraries of ITV Studios.


  1. ^ "New autumn schedule for rebranded Virgin Media TV". MediaHQ. 23 August 2018.
  2. ^ "This Morning (Virgin Three)". Sunday Independent (Ireland). 2 December 2018. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Virgin Three Actual Frequency Info - Internet Satellite Database". iSatDB - Internet Satellite Database.
  4. ^ O'Hora, Ailish (6 November 2013). "Blow to 3 as UTV plans to launch TV station here". The Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent News and Media. ISSN 0021-1222. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  5. ^ Kelly, Louise (6 November 2013). "Newstalk - UTV hopes to use radio network to contribute to Irish TV channel". Newstalk. Communicorp. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  6. ^ Burke-Kennedy, Eoin; Carbery, Genevieve (6 November 2013). "UTV to launch new Dublin-based TV channel by 2015". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Corrie, Emmerdale moving to UTV Ireland". Digital Spy. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  8. ^ McCaughren, Samantha (12 January 2014). "TV3 will oppose UTV Irish licence". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  9. ^ "BAI Signs Content Contract with 'UTV Ireland'" (Press release). Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  10. ^ a b "UTV Ireland Appoints Mary Curtis as Head of Channel". Irish Film and Television Network. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Minister designates new UTV Ireland channel for carriage on SAORVIEW". DCENR (Press release). Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. 1 December 2014. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014 – via
  12. ^ a b "UTV Ireland launch as it happened". Irish Mirror. Dublin. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  13. ^ Kemp, Stuart (5 January 2015). "UTV Ireland becomes Republic's first new commercial broadcaster since 1998". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  14. ^ Bielenberg, Kim (6 January 2015). "REVIEW: UTV's new 'Ireland Live' is slick but pre-packaged". The Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent News and Media. ISSN 0021-1222. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  15. ^ "UTV Ireland plans channel revamp". RTÉ News. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  16. ^ Cambell, John (19 October 2015). "UTV Media agrees sale of TV stations to ITV for £100m". BBC News. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  17. ^ Mulgrew, John (22 December 2015). "UTV Ireland clears first hurdle in takeover deal". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News and Media. ISSN 0307-5664. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  18. ^ McDonnell, Francess (29 February 2016). "UTV rebrands as Wireless Group and shifts focus to radio". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  19. ^ a b c Slattery, Laura (11 July 2016). "TV3 owner Virgin Media buys UTV Ireland for €10m". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  20. ^ Murray, Sean (22 November 2016). "The rovers return: TV3 is getting Emmerdale and Corrie back". Dublin: Distilled Media. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  21. ^ a b c Paul, Mark (6 December 2016). "UTV Ireland becomes be3 as TV3 group rebrands channels". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  22. ^ Ó Fátharta, Conall (9 January 2017). "UTV Ireland broadcasts for the last time amid rebrand". Irish Examiner. Cork: Landmark Media Investments. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  23. ^ Woods, Killian (28 June 2018). "TV3 is officially changing its name - to Virgin Media One". Dublin: Distilled Media. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  24. ^ a b "TV3 group to launch new-look 'be3' channel on January 9". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  25. ^ "TV3 appoints Mick McCaffrey as head of news". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Coco Television to produce Pat Kenny series". UTV Ireland. 9 December 2014. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014.
  27. ^ " - News, Views, and Articles". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  28. ^ Kelly, Aoife (30 January 2017). "'Good Morning Britain' (and Ireland) - UTV Ireland to broadcast UK breakfast show". The Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent News & Media. Retrieved 5 March 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 May 2024, at 15:07
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