Five Groups Bid for Local TV Channel License in London

Well known industry figures and brands in the running include Channel 6, ITN, Time Out, the London Evening Standard and a former chairman of the BBC Trust.

LONDON - U.K. media regulator Ofcom said Tuesday that five groups, including some backed by well known industry figures and brands here, have offered to run a local TV channel in London.

The groups that have submitted bids for a local public service TV license include such brands as local events information powerhouse Time Out and newspaper London Evening Standard, news provider Independent Television News (ITN), as well as Channel 6 and former chairmen of broadcaster Channel 4 and the BBC Trust.

A winner is expected to be picked this fall after proposed business plans are evaluated in what is called a "beauty contest" here.

"All licenses will be awarded by beauty contest," Ofcom said. "This follows new powers and duties given to Ofcom by Parliament to license new local TV services."

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The five bids for a local channel in London are part of a total number of 57 proposals for local TV offers in 21 metropolitan areas across the U.K., including in such cities as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Most proposed channels are expected to include news and weather, entertainment and sports programming.

One proposed London broadcast channel, which would be called London Live, has the backing of the Evening Standard, which is looking to diversify beyond its newspaper business. Meanwhile, London8 is backed by ITN, Time Out, Riverside Studios, the Press Association and others.

It is led by Luke Johnson, former head of Channel 4, and also has such industry veterans involved as former BBC and ITV entertainment executive Paul Jackson and stage director Paulette Randall, who served as an associate director for the London Olympic 2012 opening ceremony.

"Our planned programs are all about London - what's great and what needs improving in the capital," the consortium says on its web site. "You'll be able to access and take part in London8 whether you're at home or out and about in the city. London8 is TV for and by Londoners - your concerns and your celebrations. Whether you get in touch by phone, Facebook, text or Twitter, it's TV where you set the agenda."

The third bidder is Channel 6 boss Richard Horwood who has pitched his local broadcast offer under the moniker LondonTV. Horwood has long been believed to want to run a local station as Channel 6 has looked to turn itself into a national broadcast network with local affiliates, similar to the system broadcast networks use in the U.S.

YourTV is a proposed channel chaired by former BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons and led in London by former conservative mayor candidate Steven Norris. The group is also bidding for TV licenses in such cities as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Also going after licenses in London and several other markets, including in Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow, is Made Television. Its chairman is a former BSkyB executive. The venture plans to brand any local channels it may get a license for as Made in London, Made in Liverpool and so on.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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