That's my understanding yes. They cannot hand it over until after the sale closes, because until it does there is always the possibility that something could happen to derail it. I understand the last consent left is Ministerial approval.
Even after the sale does close, they'll probably play out for a while until TV3 firm up their plans for it.
Is that the first time UTV have
had a local announcement at 06:00?
I can't recall UTV ever covering that link. Until 1988, we joined TV-am with no lead-in announcement. When the Night-time service started, UTV took the Granada overnight service. And since the early-2000s, the generic overnight ITV service has done the honours (albeit an announcerless intro in more recent years).