The London Evening Standard was this morning awarded the licence to run a local TV channel for London.
London Live, as the new channel will be called, will be broadcast to around 4 million homes in the capital and represents the largest of all the local TV services that the regulator Ofcom is currently awarding licences for.
Around a quarter of the output will be news, which will be created by journalists in the newsroom of the Evening Standard, with input from journalists at sister titles the Independent and i.
Journalism.co.uk spoke to Andrew Mullins, managing director of the Evening Standard, to find out how the print and web-focused newsroom would make the shift to include TV.
He started by pointing out that today's announcement came as something as a surprise. Mullins said he had believed that Ofcom would announce which of the five groups bidding to run a local TV station for London at the end of February rather than at the beginning of the month.
Q. How will the Evening Standard newsroom change as it gets ready to provide TV news?
A. We are expecting that we will have to restructure the whole of the way we do our commercial and editorial operations. We are realising that we are going to have to create content in a completely different way.
We will be creating content from our resources 24/7.We are realising that we are going to have to create content in a completely different wayAndrew Mullins
... We are going to have to change the way we do things. We have had numerous discussions on the way we are going to restructure and how we can do that, but of course you don't put into place any of those plans until you know whether you have won something.
We'll now start re-engaging, talking to the key people involved and talking about potentially changing the way we put our content creation function together in a different way, with TV in mind. So we'll be getting on to that in the next couple of months.
Q. Will more jobs for journalists be created as a result?
A. We'll be creating more content, some of it will be outsourced, and some of it will be generated internally, so we are going to have to go through a process of engaging with all of the journalists we currently employ, finding out who wants to be engaged and involved whether in front of camera or providing information for news bulletins, because we want to see and try and utilise as many of our existing talent that we have.
We have a lot of people who are very digitally aware and very keen to get in front of camera, whether its Sky News paper reviews or whether that's Radio 4.
So we think we have a lot of internal talent but we'll obviously have to recruit in proper presenters. We have people we have been talking to – but we can't really say any names. And we have people to help us source and interview and select the talent we are going to need as well.
We hope first and foremost that the existing journalists who work on our titles and formats and platforms will suddenly get very excited and go 'crikey, there could be a bigger and better opportunity for me'. If you thought 'where's print going, is it inevitably just going digital?' well, we believe in an audiovisual future for our brands as well as print and digital.We believe in an audiovisual future for our brands as well as print and digitalAndrew Mullins
That hopefully will give a great opportunity for some of the staff and people we have been talking to about it.
Q. What will we see on www.londonlive.co.uk?
A. The first objective is the TV station for channel 8 on Freeview, to get the programming done on time. We intend to complement that with 33 local web IPTV programmes.
A lot of the content we create for TV will be re-purposed through that but there will also be additional content created at very local level. User-generated content, I know it's a buzzword, but we've been talking to people about how we can engage Londoners more readily with video content.
We have over a year to put this together, it's all very early days. We've got a lot of ideas on how to do it – and no end of people phoning up, emailing and texting telling us how we should do it and how they can help us.I would like to engage also with some of the people who were unsuccessful in the bidAndrew Mullins
I would like to engage also with some of the people who were unsuccessful in the bid, because maybe they want to help and be engaged with us or maybe they've got some great ideas. We should try and see if we can work with them or get some of their ideas if they are willing to share them with us.
Q. When do you expect to go live?
A. I don't think Ofcom are expecting us to go before a year of the awarding of the licence, so they may be thinking about January or February next year.
We will try and go as soon as we can. But there's a long way to go before then.
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