About TV3 Group
The launch of TV3 has, in effect, taken nearly 10 years to complete. In 1989, Ireland's newly formed independent broadcast regulator, the IRTC, was charged with inviting applications from prospective broadcasters for the exclusive right to negotiate a television program service contract with the IRTC. The successful applicant, announced in April 1989, was a group consisting of James Morris, Ossie Kilkenny, Paul McGuinness and John Kelleher.
Although it appeared that the new channel would be on the air in a matter of months following the awarding of the license several hurdles arose in 1990. Then, as a result of legislative and regulatory uncertainty, coupled with the newly-faced prospect of competing with the two state-owned broadcasting services for advertising revenues, TV3 was unable to secure the necessary financing prior to the IRTC imposed deadline of August 1991.
Despite requests to not act until the intended changes to the relevant legislation were digested, the IRTC, without prior notice, withdrew the TV3 franchise in October 1991. This was followed by nearly two years of legal and regulatory battles, culminating with the restoration of the license in 1993, and the invitation to the original consortium to begin new negotiations for a broadcasting contract.
In September 1995, it appeared as if TV3 was back on track, as the original consortium announced a partnership with Ulster Television plc, Northern Ireland's leading broadcaster. However, this agreement was short-lived, dissolving a year later.
In February 1997, the new consortium reached an agreement with CanWest Global Communications Corp., a Canadian based international broadcaster, regarding the development and operation of TV3. In October of that year, the newly formed partnership signed a broadcasting contract with the IRTC, thus paving the way for the launch of TV3 on September 20th 1998 as Ireland's first free-to-air channel not dependent on state aid at taxpayer expense.
When Taoiseach Bertie Ahern officially 'threw the switch' that launched TV3, it marked the dawning of a new era in Irish television. Offering viewers a quality alternative to the country's three state-owned networks, including the part-time Irish language broadcaster TG4, TV3 went to air with a mixture of news, current affairs, mini-series and Irish-produced programming. In fact, A.C. Nielsen ratings showed that TV3's 'opening night' was a huge success, with fully one-third of the Irish population tuning in at some point during the evening.