By Jonathan Davies

ITV is set to purchase Northern Irish broadcaster UTV's television division as it continues its spree of acquisitions.

Following reports on Sunday that the sale would be confirmed this week, UTV released a statement admitting that it was in "discussions regarding a potential sales of its television assets".

UTV reported profits of £6.5 million in the last financial year. It is by far Northern Ireland's most popular broadcaster, with a market share of 24.7%, more than four times larger than its closest rival.

In January, UTV launched UTV Ireland, which has so far suffered poor viewing figures. It is expected to make an £11.5m loss for the year and it is not yet clear whether or not UTV Ireland would be included in the deal with ITV.

ITV has purchased a number of businesses this year as it turns its focus from advertising to production. In June, it purchased Twofour Group, the company behind the Educating Yorkshire programmes. And in March, it bought Talpa Media, the company that produces The Voice for the BBC.