Updated | Ofcom has launched a consultation on plans to reduce the amount of local programming on London Live, part of plans to focus resources on key times when most viewers are watching.
Regulator Ofcom has already agreed to relieve London Live of some its original local output quota, allowing more time to show London-themed entertainment and lifestyle programmes bought in from other channels.
But a new proposal to cut programme commitments submitted to Ofcom earlier this month appear to be too much of a departure from the character of the service, according to Ofcom, who have opened up the proposals for a consultation period until 13th October.
London Live's owner ESTV Limited wants to cut local programme quotas for 'first run programmes' to 3 1/2 hours on weekdays and 1 hour per day at the weekend, a dramatic reduction on the up to 10 hours a day of first run programmes quoted in the original licence application process for the channel's third year on air.*
In a statement, the channel said the changes would ensure "that London Live continues to deliver high quality news and current affairs programmes."
Despite radical changes in programme output and commitments since its launch 2 1/2 year ago, Tim Kirkman, Managing Director of London Live, rejected claims that the channel is troubled, pointing out to a516digital that his channel outperforms ITVBe, Sky Living, 5USA, Drama and W in audience research figures for the capital.
Lower than expected viewing share was cited as necessitating a review of programme commitments, with an audience share of 2.5% - predicted in a report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - failing to materialise, prompting a review of commitments across the local TV sector.
London Live said it was "looking to reduce the volume of news we produce and ensure that we focus our resources on key hours where there is the largest audience. London Live will still be broadcasting a significant amount of news - almost 20 hours a week and an hour in peak", beating local programming hours offered by the BBC and ITV for London
Ofcom says it will "consider any responses to this consultation before deciding whether or not to consent to the changes requested by ESTV Limited." Any changes would see Ofcom amend the quotas attached to the channel's Freeview channel licence.
- Earlier, Ofcom launched the consultation with information that has now been updated following a correction. You can visit the consultation documents via this link.
- *These figures refer to the first-run local programme commitment as outlined in the Ofcom licence. We use this as a standard benchmark that is included on all local TV licences as the figure includes live news and doesn't include repeats. London Live refers to a higher figure in its press coverage, which includes a broader range of local programming including repeats and local programmes not previously shown on the channel.
This article was last updated at 20:05