Granada Media aims to maximise audience ratings for its latest deal – a 45% stake in Irish commercial channel TV3 – by withdrawing from state-owned broadcaster RTE the rights to its top soap Coronation Street and switch the programme to TV3, along with its second-string soap, Emmerdale Farm.

Neither programme will be new to many Irish viewers as British ITV content is available in some areas of the Republic via Ulster Television and local cable channels.

The acquisition, announced yesterday, is worth £18.7 million and gives Granada an equal stake alongside Canadian-based international broadcaster CanWest Global Communications. A joint venture company will be formed, to include the holders of the remaining 10% of TV3, chairman James Morris and Paul McGuinness, the manager of pop group U2.

TV3, which launched in 1998, covers 92% of the country through cable, terrestrial and microwave channels. According to Granada Media chair Charles Allen, the investment in TV3 will yield "a double-digit return".

News source: The Times (London)