U.K. Consortium Partners With Sony on Proposed London Local TV Channel

Sony Pictures Logo - P 2011

Sony Pictures Logo - P 2011

Sony Pictures Television Networks would become a program provider for the proposed "LondonTV" network if it wins a license in the British capital.

LONDON - Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Television Networks has struck a deal with a U.K. consortium called Channel 6 to support the group's proposed local channel for London.

Under the agreement, SPT Networks would become a program provider and deliver creative services for the proposed "LondonTV" network if it wins a license in the British capital. Sony operates eight U.K. channels. Its U.K. advertising sales house Dolphin Television would handle all ad sales for the channel. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The arrangement adds a big, global partner to the bid as the consortium has argued strong entertainment programming is needed to make a local TV franchise viable.

The partners in the Channel 6 consortium are local newspaper groups Trinity Mirror, Archant and Tindle.

PHOTOS: 'Downton Abbey': Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt Celebrate Season 3's U.S. Premiere

The other groups vying for a London local TV license are: London8, which promises to revitalize the city's historic Riverside Studios and wants to be the "TV version of a tweet," the Evening Standard's London Live, Made in London, chaired by former BSkyB executive Ian West with backers including Time Out, and YourTV London, headed by a former politician from the Conservative Party, which emphasizes citizen journalism, including promises of video diaries and amateur sports coverage.

“Sony Pictures Television completes our bid in great style, alongside London’s diverse local newspaper groups and one of the top broadcast TV teams in the country," said Richard Horwood, CEO of the Channel 6 consortium. "Local television has struggled in the past to be commercially successful in this country even where the potential has existed, even in London, due to lack of commercial realism. SPT Networks’ expertise in the multichannel sector will significantly strengthen LondonTV from the outset, attracting audiences and advertising revenues that will underpin our investment in high-quality local programming and expand our capacity to commission more.”

STORY: U.K. Tax Incentives for High-End TV Projects Delight Industry

Horwood has been looking to create a local TV franchise in London for years.

Said SPT Networks senior vp for Western Europe Kate Marsh: “When Channel 6 first approached us, it quickly became clear their team represents a formidable mix of creative energy and commercial judgement that will provide a viable and attractive channel for London audiences. As a U.K. channel enterprise with global muscle, we can offer proven expertise and resources to help reinforce LondonTV as it spreads its wings and expands its local offering.”

LondonTV has said it wants to tap into the hundreds of journalists employed by the consortium, use online offers at london24.com and relate "effectively to London's diverse communities, cultures, ethnic groups and interest groups, with all this local programming paid for by the big audiences and advertising revenues generated by its world class entertainment programming."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

STORY: Actress Sues Cinemax After Being 'Blindsided' by Sex Scenes