London Live chief defends application to reduce volume of peak-time local content

London Live’s chief operating officer has defended the channel’s application to reduce the volume of its local content, and said the launch has proved more challenging than anticipated.

Last week it emerged that the Evgeny Lebedev-owned channel had applied to Ofcom to reduce the number of hours of peak-time local programming to one from three and a half.

Tim Kirkman has since told The Guardian that the challenges of running a “minority channel” are “exacerbated” by the fact his channel is local.

He said that local content could be replaced with more repeats of shows bought by the station and “long-form branded advertising”, telling the paper that London Live cannot generate enough revenue from 30-second advertising slots because of poor ratings from Barb. Kirkman said this ratings body underestimates London Live’s true reach.

He said: “We are still clicking along at 0.2 per cent or 0.3 per cent, according to Barb, against a target for the end of the year of 0.7 per cent,” he said.

“We have audiences according to YouGov that are twice the size of those measured by Barb, but the problem is Barb doesn’t count them and we are not able to activate the revenue as quickly as we would like.

“I’m in the same place as every other minority channel, except it’s exacerbated by the fact I am local. We have to look at other ways of generating revenue and to do that we need to flexibility in the schedule.”

Defending London Live’s Ofcom application, he said: “An hour of local content out of three and a half hours [in peak time] is still 30%. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

“This is not a negative position, for us it is a positive thing. This is a new sector and we need to be able to grow as a business and evolve the business model to make sure we have something that makes sense.”

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