Setanta planning UK return

By Julian Clover

July 29, 2009

Setanta Sports is looking to recommence broadcasting to the UK after the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland agreed two new satellite licences.

Setanta Sports 1 will be a subscription service that will broadcast live and recorded events to the Irish Republic while Setanta Sports is described by the BCI as broadcasting “live and delayed sporting events, mainly at weekends, and will target audiences in Ireland and the UK.

The BCI has also approved proposed changes in the ownership of Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited and Setanta Sports North America. Gaiety Investments, the investment vehicle for music promoter Denis Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey, is increasing its shareholding from 20% to 60%. A new company, Sabloss, owned by Setanta’s founders Michael O’Rourke and Leonard Ryan, and the former chief executive of the UK operations Mark O’Meara, will own the remaining 40%. Sabloss had agreed the buyout with original investors Doughty Hanson and Goldman Sachs.

“These are positive developments for the Setanta companies and for Irish broadcasting,” said BCI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe. “Setanta has established itself as a key player in the broadcasting sector here and this new investment, coupled with the new channels, should secure its future in Ireland after a difficult number of months.”

Although nine slots on the Sky EPG were last week put up for auction by the administrators of the Great Britain Business, Setanta retained the rights to its Irish business, and has continued to broadcast since the GB business folded on June 23.