Ireland’s TV3 is to be sold to UPC Ireland in a deal worth in excess of €80 million. The commercial channel that has nationwide distribution will become a part of UPC’s parent Liberty Global.

The channel was previously in the hands of private equity group Doughty Hanson.

In addition to the flagship TV3, the station also operates the youth-shewing 3e, TV3+1 and 3 Player, the most widely distributed video on demand platform. TV3 is the second highest-rated channel after RTE1 with an audience share of 12%.

Magnus Ternsjö, CEO of UPC Ireland, said: “We’re pleased to welcome TV3 to the Liberty Global family. The investment we are making today secures the long-term future of TV3. With its wide range of home-grown programming, TV3 holds a unique place in the heart of Irish viewers. This is a terrific addition to the TV service we offer – which is already the best in Ireland.”

Christopher Fielding, a principal at Doughty Hanson, said: “We are pleased that our investment in TV3 has come to this successful conclusion. David McRedmond and his team have ably steered TV3 through the recession and with our support, grown it for five consecutive years. We wish TV3 and Liberty Global every success in the future.”

Liberty Global chairman John Malone has heavily invested in Irish property in recent years, but it is whether the deal is a one-off, or whether Liberty is intending to invest directly in programming once more that will entertain analysts.

Chellomedia, Liberty Global’s programming arm, was sold to AMC Networks for €750 million in October 2013.