Game over for Brit feevee Setanta

Struggling Irish pay box files for Chapter 11

LONDON — Setanta, the cash-strapped Irish pay box, has gone into administration — the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

The company, which recently failed to make a number of payments to sports rights holders including the English Premier League, ceased broadcasting its British channels at 6 p.m. U.K. time.

Webs affected include Setanta Sports 1 and 2, and Setanta Sports News.

However, Setanta Intl. and Setanta Ireland will remain on air for the time being.

Around 200 employees in Blighty are being pink-slipped. Accountancy firm Deloitte was appointed as administrator for the U.K. part of the business.

Setanta chairman Robin Miller said: “This is a sad day for all concerned. Since its inspired inception a number of years ago, Setanta and its financial backers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds buying U.K. and international sports rights. With the hard work and dedication of its staff, a pay TV broadcaster was created that entertained people in 3 million homes with top-class (sports).

“Unfortunately, in a difficult and highly competitive market, and despite strenuous efforts by the board and management, it has not been possible to find sufficient additional funds in the time available to ensure its survival.”

Talks to save the paybox’s activities outside the U.K, which include Setanta’s U.S. channels and the Irish parts of the business, will continue. These operations are believed to make a modest profit.

Said Deloitte partner Neville Khan: “The international and Ireland businesses continue to trade on air whilst we are in discussions with parties to take on those businesses as going concerns.”

Many commentators believe that Setanta’s demise was caused by the recession and satcaster BSkyB’s dominance of the U.K. pay TV sports market. 

However, some industryites believe the company tried to build its business too quickly and became over-reliant on expensive private equity debt.