Approaching its third birthday, London Live is the first and only 24 hour entertainment channel devoted to London. Jim Grice, head of news at London Live, talks to Gorkana’s Louise Pantani about why he’s keen to cover stories that might be seen as too niche for other broadcasters, what PRs need to consider before pitching an idea (think visual!) and his dream of getting an interview with Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger.
Describe London Live in five words.
Confident, Premium, Celebratory, Knowing, Diverse.
Who is your main target audience?
Londoners aged 25 to 44.
The channel will celebrate its third birthday in March. Can we expect anything new coming to the channel?
We have just changed our news programme times (12pm to 1pm and 5:30pm to 6:30pm weekdays) and (12pm to 1pm and 6pm to 7pm at weekends). This is enabling us to concentrate our resources better, improve the quality of the programmes and build on our audience increases of the last year.
Is there any way the PRs can help with upcoming content and your new approach?
We are still committed to reporting live from across the capital as much as we can each day. So if you have a London-specific story, having a location in London where we can tell that story from is a real plus for us. It can be a deciding factor on whether we cover something or not.
Also, our editorial agenda remains as wide as ever – given London’s size and diversity, we are keen to cover stories that might seem too niche for other national or local broadcasters.
Before joining London Live in 2014, you were video editor at the Press Association. What’s been the biggest difference between the two jobs?
Two main differences immediately spring to mind: a return to making content to specific deadlines and a direct relationship with your audience.
One of the main challenges of a news agency is that you are effectively always on deadline – some clients will want the content you are producing immediately.
Working to appointment-to-view programmes gives a different dynamic, but brings its own pressures – you have one chance to get things right, or the viewers let you know. That is the second difference. This is definitely a B2C role, as opposed to a B2B one, so you get direct reaction to your content, as opposed to a reaction from other publishers.
What has been the biggest challenge at London Live since you started?
Getting noticed – both by viewers and also the institutions, businesses and organisations that affect the lives of Londoners, from the Mayor down to community groups. This has also been the biggest cause of celebration, as we have built our audience since our launch in spring 2104, so that people will turn to us for a high profile programme or a major news event such as the tram crash in Croydon.
In terms of the news, it has been very satisfying to build a regular core audience for our programmes and also to have reached the point where press officers and PRs seek us out to make sure we have the latest news lines and get regular interview opportunities.
What are you looking for from PRs?
Like all media outlets, we get a lot of information from PRs so the clearer the key information is, the more chance of getting a story on air. A vital issue for us is the availability of spokespeople and /or filming opportunities on a particular story, as these are the factors that we will use to decide how and if we cover a story. We work in a visual medium, so will need to see something to help tell a story, whether that is an interviewee or a location where we can film.
Finally, if you could have any guest features on the channel, who would you have?
One of the main things we try to do with our news programming is to provide a platform for Londoners to tell their personal stories, so anyone who has a good tale to tell, which hopefully resonates with the audience, is key for us.
Personally, as a life-long Arsenal fan, I’d love to get an exclusive interview with Arsène Wenger on his 20 years managing the club in London… you never know!
Jim was talking to Gorkana’s Louise Pantani