Standard owner wins London TV

LONDON will gain its own TV station next year, after the race to operate the channel was awarded to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, the owner of the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

Communications regulator Ofcom announced that Lebedev’s London Live bid had beaten four competitors to win the rights to the contract.

London is one of 21 areas which will switch on a local TV station from late 2013, although following delays to the awarding process, London Live is unlikely to be switched on before this time next year.

The station will focus on news and current affairs with programming created by staff at the Standard.

It will also present live politics coverage with space for drama and sports.

The race to win the 12-year licence for the London channel was the most hotly contested in the UK, with the ability to reach four million viewers a big advertising opportunity.

Launching a TV station could turn Lebedev’s British media holdings into a profitable enterprise for the first time since he bought the Independent and a majority share of the Standard in 2009.

The most recent figures available for parent company Lebedev Holdings showed a £27.4m loss in 2011.

It is controlled by Alexander’s son, Evgeny, who will be chairman of the TV company, ESTV.

Other bidders for the London TV licence included London8, led by former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson, and LondonTV, fronted by former ITV News editor David Mannion.