This Isn't The First Time Someone's Tried To Launch A TV Station Called "London Live"
The capital is getting its own 24 hour channel on Monday. But not many people know that we've been here before.
London Live is going to launch on Monday, promising 24 hour a day broadcasting for the capital.
But perhaps more interesting is that this isn't actually the first time that London has had its own 24 hour station.
In the early 1990s the UK's newly-arrived cable TV companies were locked in in a pay-TV battle with Rupert Murdoch's Sky. And they wanted someone to provide a London-centric channel to help boost their standing.
So, much as all current media executives are convinced that they must "do something with the internet", newspaper groups started queueing up to get involved in the belief that their readers would migrate to the new medium.
So twenty years ago Trinity Mirror – then part owner of The Independent newspaper – planned to launch a station called, er, London Live.
[David Montgomery] outlined his vision for a London city TV channel called London Live. It was just the ticket. It would run on all the local London cable stations at the same time. Even if few people watch it, as seemed likely at first, it would give them experience in working together, and this could lead to bigger things.
But instead they lost out to a bid from Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail, to produce a news channel that relied on staff from, er, the Evening Standard.
Associated plans were much more definite: a combined news and entertainment channel based on a tie-up with Alan McKeown's SelecTV... The plan was to build a schedule around repeats of SelecTV's vast back catalogue of hit shows. This would be mixed with live news bulletins using the Evening Standard's expertise and other cheap and cheerful studio-based materials like chat-shows.
What eventually launched was a 24 hour broadcaster called Channel One, which stayed on air for for four years between 1994 and 1998.
The channel's launch team included Michael Rosenblum, who has described how the experience turned sour after a few months when management made the misguided decision to replace lightweight cameras with more professional technology:
Soon, 'standard' tripods, batteries, cases, light kits and so on followed. It was a disaster. The quality of the work collapsed.
Exhausted from dragging around all the gear (they were given little luggage carts), the best they could do was put the cameras on their tripods, get a few exterior shots, a few soundbites and a stand up and truck it on home. An enormous new emphasis was placed on the standups. The light, fast moving, funny and creative work was replaced with a leaden 'local news' look anyone would recognize.
It was unwatchable. A mess. A few years later the whole operation was mercifully shut down. A disaster. It could have been avoided. It could have been avoided had management had the courage to 'stay the course'. (Not to sound like someone else I would rather not be associated with). Never the less, television news is a very very conservative and traditional business. It is highly risk averse. It moves incrementally.