UTV Media now expects to incur a loss of £11.5m (€16.2m) this year on its UTV Ireland television channel, blaming weaker-than-expected day time and weekend audience figures.

The channel began broadcasting in January with start-up costs of £3m, with the media group initially hoping for it to be break-even by the end of the year.

That was revised to a £6m loss in March, however, with UTV Media blaming a delay in negotiations with advertisers and slower-than-expected growth in viewership figures.

In a trading update today the company has again increased the loss it expects this year, blaming "volatile" audience performance.

UTV Media said it had seen signs of audience growth in the first quarter, but this had stalled in the last month.

It said it had performed well in the weekday peak time period but was seeing disappointing figures for day time and weekend viewing.

As a result UTV’s board had approved a plan to address the audience shortfall, though it said this would take time to deliver results.

“The board is therefore assuming no significant improvement in overall audience levels for the second half of the year and is therefore revising its guidance for the full year and now expects UTV Ireland to incur losses of £11.5m in 2015.”

However the company said it had reaffirmed its objective to make UTV Ireland the second most watched channel in the Republic of Ireland by 2017 and said it was confident the move would create “long-term strategic value for shareholders”.

Shares in UTV Media closed 1.4% lower in Dublin following the update.