Newspaper veteran David Montgomery believed to be mounting bid for London Live

London Live has emerged as a takeover target for newspaper veteran turned media investor veteran David Montgomery

Former Mirror chief executive David Montgomery has made an approach to take over London Live, The Drum understands.

Sources close to the local TV channel say Montgomery has engaged its owner, the Evening Standard and Independent publisher ESI Media, in discussions on a deal.

Montgomery, a former News of the World editor who subsequently ran The Mirror’s publishing business for seven years, has turned his attentions to media investments since leaving the national newspaper industry in the 1990s.

He formed the regional newspaper group Local World which was sold to Trinity Mirror for £220m in 2015 and last year mounted an ultimately unsuccessful takeover of Express newspapers.

An ESI spokesperson confirmed it had received approaches for its TV channel but declined to comment specifically on Montgomery’s mooted interest.

“Local television is a fast-evolving sector and, as a significant player in the largest UK market, we receive approaches for the business all the time,” they said.

“We don’t discuss private business matters publicly so wouldn’t comment on any specific discussions.”

Last month Montgomery registered a new business with Companies House named Local Faces Limited whose services are described as “television programme production activities”.

He is also already a director of Made Television, which runs local channels in eight British regions and cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Teesside.

Montgomery's interest in the TV business goes back to the 1990s when he competed to operate a London-centric station on the fledgling Sky satellite platform.

In a neat link to the present day, Montgomery’s channel would have been known as London Live, but his Mirror-backed bid for the slot lost out to rival publisher Associated Newspapers.

The London Live of today – operating on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media – was launched by Evgeny Lebedev’s ESI in 2014 but has struggled to hit revenue and viewing targets.

According to TV ratings body Barb, its audience share for April stood at just 0.06%.

Underlining the precarious nature of the local TV market, Scottish broadcaster STV yesterday announced that its “loss-making” STV2 channel – an amalgamated service for Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow – is to close, with its licence sold to That’s TV.

Montgomery could not be contacted at the time of going to press.

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