Yet another major change for commercial television in the Republic of Ireland, as Virgin Media makes its mark.
On Thursday morning, TV3, 3e and Be3 (the former UTV Ireland) rebranded to Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Two and Virgin Media Three. It's the third big change to the relatively small Irish commercial television market since 2015 and the culmination of the fallout of TV3's sale to Liberty Global subsidiary Virgin Media Ireland and the subsequent sale of ill-fated UTV Ireland to TV3's new owners.
John Malone, the American billionaire who ultimately owns Virgin Media, bought Ireland's version of ITV in 2015, he also owns a 10% stake in ITV. This has already been mentioned in the media mergers thread, but could ITV be subject to a takeover soon? Could Malone be the one doing the taking over?
Although risen a bit in recent days, the pound is at a record low and it would be very attractive for foreign companies, especially American ones, to buy up British companies. But the question is, do we want ITV to fall under American ownership should it happen? Channel 5 is already now owned by America's Viacom and the quality of programmes on the channel, which is still one of main broadcast channels, is lamentable.
Some might argue, I being one of them, that the rot set into ITV a long time ago with shows like the gladiatorial Jeremy Kyle show, the freak show that This Morning has become and the pretentious, smug, Simon Cowell who seems to dominate weekend tv shows. Not forgetting all the soaps that dominate ITV's schedule with "family friendly" fare like serial killers and rapists to "entertain" us on weekday evenings. Would a change of ownership of the channel make any difference?
If Malone's Liberty Global does buy up the other 90% of ITV, what would we think if they followed their Irish example and renamed ITV Virgin Media Television? It's quite a mouthful!