The Chaffinch takes flight

Published Thursday, 27 February 2014
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This morning was one of those mornings. The sun shone as I got into the car and there was blue sky over Belfast Lough.

I put the car CD player on and the first track to play was Katy Perry 'Roar'. (Don't judge me!)

On the day we announced we were planning a TV station for Ireland back in November of last year UTV's Head of Comms Orla, sent me an email simply saying "Let it Roar", since then Katy Perry's song has been a kind of unofficial theme song for the project - at least in my world. To hear it again this morning by chance...a nice positive start to the day.

So I drove to the train station set for Dublin, sun shining, music a little too loud, knowing that today we'd be signing the contract with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to launch UTV Ireland. At last the chaffinch is taking flight...

Ok, what's all this Chaffinch stuff?

Well, and I'm sure any ornithologists may correct me, our Commercial Director Nigel came up with the Project Chaffinch name - Chaffinch is a non-migratory bird that travels south in the winter. UTV Television is heading South too... but to make it one of our permanent homes.

Today UTV's CEO John McCann, myself, Michael O'Keeffe and Bob Collins - the CEO and Chair of the BAI - signed a ten year Section 71 Contract to broadcast a new TV channel in Ireland.

We're delighted, we look forward in the months ahead to announce management, buildings, carriage deals, presenters, programming, staff, advertising tariffs, sponsorship opportunities and lots of other things that will change the television market in Ireland forever.

There will be a new news and current affairs show and more than 100 new jobs - that's on top of the 300 or so people UTV already employs in our Irish radio division in stations like FM104 in Dublin and 96FM in Cork.

It's a multi-million euro investment and today's signing signals the start of the process of building the channel.

Last week UTV got its Ofcom Channel 3 licence for 10 years, today a BAI Contract for ten years - not a bad February for all of us at UTV.

A huge personal thank you to the small and ultra-brilliant group of people in #TeamUTV who've been working on these projects closely and in almost total secrecy - without you we couldn't have done this.

Now as the sun begins to fall in Dublin - UTV Ireland - let it roar!

(and the chaffinch takes flight!)

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Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is the Managing Director of UTV's Television Division.

Overseeing everything from the day to day running of UTV in Northern Ireland to the launch of UTV Ireland. His brief covers business development, online channels, regulatory affairs and the Contract and Licence commitments of the two channels.

Away from his job, he enjoys travel, current affairs, food - both eating out and cooking (he tells us he's pretty good in the kitchen) and his guilty pleasure is bad early Hollywood movies esp. horror and sci fi - think Bella Lugosi and Buster Crabbe!

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