London Live is great - if you watch telly. And these days most of us... don't. If I'm representative of Mr Average Londoner, when I get home all I want to watch is escapist catch-ups of the blockbuster shows I'm continually missing. I swear one day there will be so much TV I need to catch up on that I'll never have time to see a current show.
Now I'm not going to get bogged down here in lots of stats about who watches TV in London and their demographics. We could argue the toss forever. As far as I'm concerned there is an audience for everything - even "Extreme Fishing with Robson Green". But as far as I can tell from a straw poll of London friends and colleagues, no one is taking the idea of a London TV channel seriously. They are certainly not going: Oooh, great, at last, just what I always dreamed of - 24-hour coverage of celeb clothing, more shouty music shows and reruns of 80s dramas like London's Burning, which was frankly pretty crap at the time.
Interestingly, no one I spoke to thought they would get their news from London Live, which is odd considering that the station is the brainchild of Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers. And that's a problem for this embryonic enterprise. If we take me as Mr Average, I read the national newspapers and Evening Standard online and get my hyper-local news and what's on from the Hampstead Village Voice. I watch the BBC evening news and get their locally-specific news slot, and I listen to Radio 4 for an overview. If you add my beloved catch-ups into this mix, where, precisely, do I have time to wade through youth advertising to get to any news content on London Live? If their news slots were delivered (possibly ad-free?) as a podcast, then perhaps. But it isn't.
To be fair, I admire the entrepreneurial spirit at London Live. I think it's a brave thing to do in this manically busy, information-overloaded world. I'm excited by the fact that London Live gives a space for new young talent, especially journalists, and I know that some of the faces we see today on London Live will be big names in the future. I've been to the London Live studios - I was shown round by a senior executive - and it is a very slick and professional operation. Yes, it's bound to have teething problems, but what new business doesn't? I think, on balance it's a worthwhile enterprise. And I wish them the very best of luck, and sincerly hope that I am wrong in my view that the channel will fail.
I do, however, have one other major concern about London Live. I understand the point that many other large cities in the world have local TV channels but it still leaves me feeling a little unsettled somehow.
I'm a Northerner by birth, from York. This means I have perhaps a slightly different perspective. I also work in politics, in the Westminster bubble and within the hyper-London-centric culture as a whole so I have a foot in both camps. I love London but I'm more aware than most of its shortcomings. Someone said that London is a mega-city. Economically, culturally and psychologically I think it's turning into much more than that. I think it's verging on a City State. It could declare independence, operate like the Vatican City, and most people north of Watford and west of Reading wouldn't notice any difference. And they probably wouldn't care anyway. To most people in the regions, "that there London is just not that important.
In my view, London is slowly turning into an introverted, slightly deluded place where people operate within their own London reality. It's not only things like house prices that confirm this wild disconnect. Journalists, apparatchiks, senior politicians, and yes, even London PR people (except for me, obviously) are also starting to discover that people outside London just don't think the same way they do. Take the Farage/Clegg debate. All the national channels and many of the London-based journalists couldn't believe that Farage won. They were in denial even after the poll results declared a massive win for Farage. It just did not compute; did not fit their own London reality. And if it doesn't fit, stick your fingers in your ears, sing La, La, La, and ignore it. Anyway, everyone outside London is an idiot anyway, aren't they? They just don't know what's best for them, these people.
That's my other worry about London Live, then - it just cements this inward-looking, strident, London Egotism. That's why, as a semi-outsider, the channel leaves me a little cold. And, let's face it, it's rather patronising no? Look Londoners we know you're all young, cool, hip and trendy; we know what you want. Look rest of UK, you're not invited to this party because, clearly darling *sarcastic eye swivel*, you're not young, cool, hip or trendy. You drink beer and play bingo. We know this.
Extreme point of view? Maybe, but it is my point of view and I suspect I'm not alone.Suggest a correction