UTV, the Northern Irish ITV franchise holder, will launch a hard-hitting late-night news and current affairs show as part of its push to develop more of its own regional opt-outs.

The 30-minute UTV Live will be stripped Monday through Thursday each week directly after ITV's News at Ten.

The programme will have a dedicated news team and the studios at Londonderry and Belfast will be refreshed for the show. The first edition is scheduled for 27 April.

UTV managing director Michael Wilson said the new programme would be a combination of debate, analysis and news that “wasn't just a re-hash of the 6pm bulletin”. He added that the show would “take Northern Ireland to the rest of the world”.

Wilson said the programme should silence critics who said UTV was giving up on regional news when it cut back its news and current affairs team earlier this year.

“We are the leading news and current affairs broadcaster in Northern Ireland with a consistently bigger news audience share than the BBC. This new programme will only cement our position,” he said.

Wilson said he was looking to make more factual acquisitions and would diversify the schedule with opt-outs to make it “more relevant” to its Ulster audience.

“Just as STV is opting out of ITV's schedule with comedy shows like South Park that its audience will love, we know our audience can't get enough of serious news and current affairs.”