UTV is to sell its Irish TV channels to ITV Plc in a £100m deal, it was announced today.

The two companies first confirmed they were in talks in late August and today announced they’d reached “a conditional agreement” for the sale of UTV, the Northern Ireland Channel 3 franchisee, and the recently launched UTV Ireland which broadcasts to the Republic of Ireland.

Today’s deal reduces the number of Channel 3 franchise holders to just two, with ITV Plc operating 13 and Scotland’s STV holding the remaining two.

Commenting on the sale, Richard Huntingford, UTV’s Chairman said: “The last few years have seen increasing consolidation in the global television sector, creating media companies that span content, broadcast and platform ownership.

“Having successfully extended the reach of our television business with the launch of UTV Ireland, I believe that Shareholder value can be maximised through our television interests becoming part of ITV’s global broadcast and content business.

“ITV will be a good owner of the business and, with its scale and reach, will be able to accelerate the future growth of the business.”