Evening Standard owner Lebedev in talks to sell loss-making TV channel

 
John Reynolds
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Evgeny Lebedev And Aidan Barclay Appear At the Leveson Inquiry
Billionaire Lebedev is in talks with local TV companies to sell of his TV operation London Live (Source: Getty)

Evgeny Lebedev is in talks with local TV companies and national broadcasters about selling or merging his loss-making London TV operation with a deal hoped to be reached in the coming months.

London Live was launched by the Russian businessman’s media company ESI Media in 2014, after winning a licence to broadcast in the capital, but it has struggled to attract viewers.

According to Barb, the TV ratings body, London Live had an average of just 182,000 viewers a day in the week ending May 13, which is 0.3 per cent of the market.

London Live will report its full-year financial figures in July, when it is expected to show an improvement in the £4.5m loss it reported in the year ending September 2016 on sales of £3.7m. However, it is still expected to report a loss.

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Lebedev, who also owns the Evening Standard newspaper, is now looking to merge London Live with another regional player or to sell to a traditional broadcaster with a national footprint.

"At some stage local TV has got to consolidate to be able to prove a sustainable and workable business model," one source said.

Lebedev is currently in talks with regional TV rivals Made TV and That’s TV. US media companies CBS and Discovery are amongst the traditional broadcasters also thought to be interested in acquiring London Live.

London Live MD Tim Kirkman said: "Local television is a fast evolving sector and, as a significant player in the largest UK market, we receive approaches for the business all the time. We don’t discuss private business matters publicly so wouldn't comment on any specific discussion."

Made TV and That’s TV were unavailable for comment.

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