Published Friday, 11 May 2012
UTV's headquarters in Belfast, Havelock House. (© UTV)
UTV met with representatives from Belfast City Council on Friday morning to advise them of the company's position and to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the issue.
Managing Director Michael Wilson, Head of News Darwin Templeton and Head of Communications Orla McKibbin confirmed that UTV remains committed to promoting local sport - including football.
We are prepared to commit technical facilities, reporting skills and editorial airtime to the sport. We want the IFA and the local clubs to continue to benefit from the publicity UTV provides.
Michael Wilson, UTV
"Two years ago we wrote to chief executives of local football, rugby and GAA organisations to advise that we were no longer willing to pay for the rights for news access to sporting events," Michael Wilson explained.
"No other broadcasters in the UK or Ireland pay for this access. Newspapers do not pay for access to cover games, so television news bulletins should be no different.
"In the past two seasons, our contracts for rugby and GAA have ended and, through positive dialogue, our coverage has continued of both sports."
He added: "In the coming season, with the cooperation of the IFA and the clubs, UTV's sport team hope to continue to cover football news - including training and post match interviews, as we do now, across our output on television, radio and online.
"We hope to continue our good working relationship with the clubs and promote the sport in our programming as UTV Live is the most watched regional news in Northern Ireland by some margin."
Ulster Unionist Alderman Jim Rodgers and DUP Alderman William Humphrey outlined their concerns at the meeting, which they said had been useful.
"We are now seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish Football Association and we will continue to push for a resolution," they said.