London Live TV company ESTV lost more than £1m in 13 months

New figures reveal Evening Standard owner Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny invested £2m to help set up service

The company behind the London Live TV channel has reported a loss of more than £1m in its first financial figures – supported by £2m in loans from Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny.

ESTV, the company set up by Evgeny Lebedev to deliver his vision of a TV channel for the capital, ran up a loss of £1.25m in its first 13 months as it went through the bidding process to win the Ofcom TV licence.

Lebedev – the owner of the Independent titles, Evening Standard and cut-price i – set up ESTV on 6 August 2012 and the first accounts run until 29 September 2013.

The loss includes £370,000 in "office reorganisation and studio build costs" spent on carving out space for London Live within the publisher's headquarters in Kensington High Street, London.

A further £20,000 was invested in designing and launching the London Live website.

Ofcom awarded the London TV licence to Lebedev in February 2013.

In the pre-launch accounts just six staff are listed as employed by the company, but numbers swelled to about 60 in the runup to launch on 31 March this year.

Total wage costs were £342,000 for the period, with the unnamed highest-paid director receiving £97,000.

The accounts show that as at 29 September last year Alexander Lebedev had provided a £1m loan, with Evgeny Lebedev supplying £999,999.

"The company requires significant further funding and intends to meet its day-to-day working capital requirements through long-term finance provided by Mr Evgeny Lebedev and Mr Alexander Lebedev, directors of the parent company and companies under their control," said ESTV.

The £2m in loans are due for repayment in April and August 2016.

The channel has got off to a rocky start since launch, attracting small audiences and losing editorial director Stefano Hatfield within weeks.

Evgeny Lebedev is no longer a director of ESTV – he resigned on 18 September last year – but he is listed as the ultimate controlling party in the company accounts.

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Contributor

Mark Sweney

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