LONDON Feb 4 Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev
won a London-wide television franchise on Monday, beating four
other applicants with a package including programming from the
newsroom of his family-backed London Evening Standard newspaper.
The winning bid from ESTV (Evening Standard Television)
pledges to deliver rolling live news at peak commuter times from
the newspaper's offices in west London.
British telecoms regulator Ofcom is offering licences for a
number of local TV stations, typically covering a single city,
using digital TV transmission. The London franchise, which
offers an audience of up to 4 million people, is potentially the
ESTV said the schedule for its London Live channel would be
driven by news and current affairs, drawing on the Lebedev's
newspaper resources, which also include The Independent title.
The channel will also include debates, programming made by
London's diverse communities, coverage of art, cultural and
sporting events and entertainment shows.
Lebedev's links with London date back to when he was a KGB
officer based in the city in the late eighties. He made a
fortune in banking after returning to Russia, where he owns
assets ranging from newspapers to airline stakes.
He bought the Evening Standard in 2009.
His son Evgeny, who is chairman of the Evening Standard,
tweeted that he was determined that group's winning bid would
"change London for good".
The company said it expected to be ready to launch in
September 2013, initially over the Internet and then by digital
broadcasting, with a slot on the Freeview free-to-air platform.
It also intends to broadcast on the Virgin cable
network and Sky satellite TV platform, as well as on
Ofcom has awarded 15 licences to date out of 21 planned for
local broadcasting on digital terrestrial television.