London is to get its own local TV channel which will be operated by the London Evening Standard. It will occupy channel 8 on Freeview. 20 local stations have been planned including Manchester which will be operated by YourTV.
The new TV channel will initially offer an 18-hour-a-day service covering news, current affairs, entertainment, weather and sport focused on London. An exact launch date for London Live has not yet been announced, but Ofcom expects the first local TV networks to start broadcasting before the end of 2013. The Lebedevs, who also own the Independent, beat fierce competition for the London local TV licence, including rival bids from London8, a local network that had partnered with ITN, the Press Association and Riverside Studios; the Channel 6 Consortium; Made Television; and the YourTV brand, a consortium of local TV operators chaired by Sir Michael Lyons. The London Live network will be the biggest of all the new generation of UK local TV networks, serving an estimated audience of 4m homes in the capital on Freeview. In a statement issued to the Evening Standard website, Evgeny Lebedev said: "I am absolutely delighted that Ofcom has awarded us this opportunity to give Londoners their own high-quality local television channel. "Our excellent team of journalists in the capital have the best contacts, knowledge and understanding of the London scene. Through the Evening Standard and Independent, we have proved time and again that we can deliver fast, accurate, high-quality breaking news, features and analysis, and we are looking forward to applying these skills to London Live. "Our success in this bid is a testament to my management team here and the staff across both newspapers." London Live will broadcast 18 hours a day with a minimum of four and a half hours of London news, along with one hour of current affairs programming. There will be news bulletins every half hour, and ESTV will also launch 33 "hyper-local" internet TV streams, one for each London borough. London Live will utilise the editorial team at the Standard and the Independent to cover a range of subjects across the capital, from crime to entertainment. The main studio will be based in the Standard's newsroom in Kensington. Alongside Freeview, London Live will also broadcast on Sky, Virgin Media and via IP TV. It will use new split-screen video technology and integrate social media reaction from services as Twitter and Facebook. Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands said that the paper was "tremendously proud" to be selected to serve London with local television. "We aim to give the two million Londoners who read the Evening Standard a terrific service on television - and welcome an even wider audience," she said in a statement. Ofcom has now awarded 20 local TV licences, along with the licence to operate the dedicated multiplex that will allocate local TV spectrum on Freeview. Originally conceived by former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, the local TV scheme aims to create a vibrant network of stations that can serve UK local communities, improve local democracy and provide an alternative to the BBC's services. Digital UK has allocated prominent channel numbers for local TV, including position 8 on the Freeview TV guide in England and Northern Ireland, and position 45 in Wales and Scotland. Alongside broadcasting on DTT, the local TV channels are expected to go live on satellite and cable TV, and online. They will be supported by advertising, but the BBC has also pledged £25 million of funding for local TV up to 2017.