Lebedev and Evening Standard win London TV licence

Feb 4, 2013

Station will broadcast to four million homes, giving boost to Standard and Independent newspapers

EVGENY LEBEDEV and his father Alexander, the owners of the London Evening Standard and The Independent, have won the much sought-after licence to run a local TV station in the capital, which will be seen in around four million homes.

The new station, London Live, could begin broadcasting on Freeview later this year. It will be on air 18 hours a day and will offer current affairs, entertainment, weather and sport news for London.

Evening Standard TV (ESTV) faced "fierce competition" from other bidders, including rivals backed by ITN and the Press Association, according to Digital Spy.

Ofcom said it picked ESTV for the 12-year licence because it showed the "greatest understanding of London's diverse communities".

The Evening Standard has revealed that the channel will feature regular news bulletins plus "33 'hyper-local' internet TV streams from each London borough".

"The interactive channel will use split-screen technology to show instant reaction to news from social media such as Twitter and Facebook," it added. The paper also revealed that journalists at the Standard and the Independent will create content for the new station. The company pledged £5m in marketing support over the next five years.

The Daily Telegraph said the London channel was one of 19 new local stations to launch across Britain but is "the only one with a chance of making a substantial amount of money" and is seen as "the most potentially lucrative licence since the advent of Channel 5 15 years ago".

The win could bolster the Standard and Independent brands said The Guardian. "The Lebedevs will be banking on their entry into the UK TV market helping to move their newspaper assets to profitability," it explained. "The new Evening Standard-backed TV channel... is critical to building a cross-media portfolio, including the loss-making Independent, Independent on Sunday and 20p i, that will significantly boost appeal for advertisers."

However, previous newspaper and TV tie-ups have not always prospered. "The last UK regional daily to have its own TV station was the Manchester Evening News," recalled the Press Gazette. "Channel M was mothballed in 2010 and later closed completely after failing to make a profit."

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