Geldof in TV news bid for Northern Ireland

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The Independent Online

Bob Geldof has said his TV production company intends to bid for a role in Northern Ireland when expected reform of regional news suppliers begins.

Geldof made the comments in an interview with the Financial Times.

The media regulator Ofcom has proposed that current TV news suppliers, including UTV, will have to enter a competitive tendering process some time in the next few years.

The expected reforms could also include access to Government funding.

Mr Geldof told the FT he would offer both normal and online TV news.

He is the largest shareholder of the production company Ten Alps.

The company intends to participate in tenders for news and current affairs provision across the UK.

Its plans are most advanced in Northern Ireland where it bought a Belfast company, Below the Radar, earlier in 2009 — this company would lead the bid.

Below the Radar is already working on an ultra-local TV service in Fermanagh.

Michael Wilson, managing director, UTV Television, said he welcomed competition.

“As the most watched regional news in the whole of the ITV Network we are confident that if the Government decide to introduce public funding for regional news — and that is still an if until Digital Britain is announced on June 16 — there is no organisation better placed than UTV to continue to provide the most watched and valued news in Northern Ireland.

“We have served Northern Ireland very well for the past 50 years so we have no fear of competition, although it is interesting to see companies such as Bob Geldof's Ten Alps who have not shown any interest in Northern Ireland before, expressing an interest as soon as public funding is mentioned.”

Below the Radar rejected Mr Wilson's accusation of “carpet bagging” saying that they had originally approached Ten Alps as they needed a larger strategic partner.

Taken from the Belfast Telegraph