LONDON — A new U.K. TV channel, London Live, launches Monday, one of the biggest developments in the local biz since the launch of commercial channel Channel 5 in 1997.
The channel is the third of 25 ultra-local TV stations to launch in the U.K., with the rest to follow in the next year or so. It is backed by Russian-born Evgeny Lebedev, owner of national newspaper the Independent and London paper Evening Standard, who has pledged to invest £15 million ($25 million) a year in the channel. The objective is to make it profitable in three years, by which time it is hoped the revenue will be £25 million ($41.7 million) a year.
The channel, which will focus on life in the U.K. capital, will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The backbone of the programming will be five-and-a-half hours of London news and public affairs shows. Acquired programming includes comedies “Twenty Twelve,” which stars Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”), “Misfits” and “Peep Show,” and crime drama “Shadow Line,” all of which have London themes.
“London’s a great city that has so much to offer as far as culture, art, theater, music and sport,” Lebedev told the BBC. “We’ve tried to create a channel that is completely different from all the other channels. And the way we are different is unlike taking well-known names and celebrities and just putting them on the channel, we’ve tried to create a launchpad for new talent.”
Stefano Hatfield, editorial director of London Live, told the Guardian: “The biggest thing is that once people see it they will wonder why they didn’t have it before. Cities like New York and Toronto have dedicated TV channels; many cities do. It is crazy that London hasn’t before now. There are so many stories in the capital and broadcasters like ITV and the BBC just don’t have the time to do them all properly.”