Future of Ulster Television

Future of Ulster Television

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Belfast, Havelock House




Transmission 21/11/1988


1hr 06min 21sec




1 inch



Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Filmed at Havelock House, Des Smyth, Managing Director of UTV, holds a meeting for staff about the future of Ulster Television.

Brought forward in Parliament on 7th November 1988 by The Secretary of State for the Home Department - Mr Douglas Hurd -  the 'White Paper' introduced a blueprint for the future of television in the UK. Mr Smyth, does not go into detail about all the changes, but instead focuses on the three which effect Ulster Television. 

Firstly, in relation to competition, on one hand audience and revenue and on the other production. The main changes will be due to the introduction of satellite channels which means that advertising revenue will be spread out much more thinly. The other issue is that at least 25% of total output needs to be made by independent production companies, something which Smyth says is more challenging in Northern Ireland. 

The second - and biggest threat to Ulster Television - is the proposed competitive tendering for licences. This allows applicants to put in a bid and bring it to the Independent Television Commission, with the highest winning the licence on Channel 3. 

Lastly, is the proposal for the financial and structural link between Channel 4 and ITV to be broken. As Ulster Television procures annually £2 million from Channel 4, this broken link would mean losing that financial income stream.

Despite all this, Mr Smyth, assures staff that this year there will be no forced redundancies, that the training budget is being increased and they are looking to bring the retirement age down to 60. 


Ulster Television became the incumbent ITV licence holder in Northern Ireland and it had to see off two rival bidders for the licence in 1991. 


Speaker: Des Smyth, Managing Director.



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