UTV, the Channel 3 public service broadcaster for Northern Ireland, is temporarily dropping its regional branding between programmes to scale back staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of local voiced continuity announcements the ITV branding, seen across England and Wales, will also air on UTV. The news programme UTV Live will not be re-branded during the short-term changes.
Also as part of the decrease in the amount of staff being used during the ‘stay at home’ coronavirus situation UTV has reduced its number of news reporters working at their studios and UTV Live is, like all ITV regional news programmes, now fronted by one presenter only. Some of the news bulletins have also been reduced in length in line with the ITV local news offerings.
Based in Belfast, UTV is by far the most watched channel in Northern Ireland with the channel proud to boast they provide ‘high quality, popular home-produced programmes, backed up by the best of ITV programming.’
UTV, as Ulster Television, first went on air in 1959 as part of the then entirely local ITV Network and has held the Channel 3 public service broadcasting licence ever since. UTV was also the first commercial television operator on the island of Ireland.
The channel helped launch names including Gloria Hunniford, Eamonn Holmes, and Gordon Burns.
It became part of ITV in 2016 and while some popular news programming was axed such as UTV Live Tonight and the studio space was reduced, the channel is still hugely popular with Northern Ireland viewers.