UTV plans to establish a new television channel in the Republic of Ireland with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, creating 100 jobs by 2015.

The company submitted an application to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) today.

As part of its proposed schedule, UTV says it is planning to broadcast a 60-minute nightly news and current affairs show.

UTV Media already employs over 300 people in the Republic, and owns several radio stations including FM104 and Q102 in Dublin as well as Cork's 96FM.

In a statement, the company said the move follows the signing of an agreement, which will give UTV the exclusive broadcasting rights for soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the Republic.

A spokesman for the BAI said it had received a licence application from UTV Media and it will be dealt with in the coming months.

The new channel will be based in Dublin with additional news gathering and reporting presence in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. 

The company plans to base the new station in Dublin's Docklands, close to where the company runs its local radio stations. Schedules will be based around ITV's offering of current affairs, entertainment and drama, with local shows and news bulletins slotted in to customise the channel for an Irish Republic audience.

The only homegrown show already planned is a peak-time one-hour evening news programme, anchored in Dublin and taking in reports from bases in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. Station chiefs have refused to disclose what time the flagship news programme will air.

Michael Wilson, managing director of UTV, said the plan is to increase the number of Irish-made shows, using independent producers in Ireland.

UTV Media said it plans to have the new channel on air in early 2015. It said it expects the channel to breakeven in its first full year of operation and then move into profit from 2016.

While he said he was surprised by the news, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has welcomed UTV's decision. He said it would provide more competition in a very dynamic area and provide more jobs.

The Minister said the new station would provide competition for incumbents but that was the nature of the business.

Mr Rabbitte said he could not comment on whether the BAI would approve the licence but he believed given that UTV was already a significant media player in Ireland, there should not be a problem in granting it.

"It has the largest television following in Northern Ireland and has some six independent radio stations in the Republic of Ireland and therefore I would have thought that, without intruding into an area that is a matter for the BAI, that they will be able to jump through whatever hoops are required.

"I think one has to be positive. It is more competition in a very dynamic area. It is already a significant media player on the island of Ireland," he said.

In a statement, RTÉ said: "This is potentially a significant development in the Irish media market.

"The application for a new channel from UTV is at the very early stages of consideration and we await the outcome of those deliberations with interest."

Meanwhile, CEO of TV3 David McRedmond said the broadcaster would continue with its strategy of focusing more on home-produced programming.

He said programmes like Coronation Street and Emmerdale were becoming more expensive and that this development will free up more money to be spent on TV3 production and commissioning.

UTV Media's chief executive John McCann said the same format will be used in the Republic of Ireland as is used in Northern Ireland on the new station, but will be customised to include local programming.

"Its the formula that we successfully apply in Northern Ireland already - take a schedule that is well known to viewers and is popular with viewers. What viewers will recognise is the ITV content with that schedule but continuity and local programming will all be sourced here," he added.