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Billionaire Lebedev Wins License to Start New London TV Station

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Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny, won the right to operate a new London TV station that will rely on content from the family’s London Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

London Live TV beat four other applicants for the right to a 12-year license to broadcast to an estimated 4 million homes, U.K. communications regulator Ofcom said in a statement today.

Lebedev’s free-to-air channel won against bids by former mayoral candidate Steven Norris and former Channel 4 Chairman Luke Johnson. London is one of 21 U.K. markets where Ofcom is adding local TV stations. London Live aims to operate from early 2014 for 18 hours a day, focusing on news, current affairs and general interest topics in London, said Andrew Mullins, managing director of the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

“People are interested in more local content,” Mullins said in an interview today. “Our TV guide will be alongside BBC1 and BBC2, and this gives us great opportunities.”

London Live isn’t expected to be “hugely lucrative” during its initial years, Mullins said.

“It’s very difficult to secure high yields for advertising given the dominance of the big players,” he said.

London Live is established under a company called ESTV, in which Evgeny Lebedev owns 100 percent, Mullins said. A spokesman for Alexander Lebedev declined to comment on the license.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Schweizer in London at kschweizer1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net.

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