No-go in Leicester Square: council rebuffs MTV show

Moves by satellite music channel MTV to broadcast a flagship live show from Leicester Square have been knocked back by Westminster City Council.

The channel had applied for a licence to use 1 to 4 Leicester Square, formerly the site of Home nightclub, to broadcast a daily hour-long entertainment show called Total Request Live.

The show was recently launched in the US, broadcasting from New York's Time Square, and MTV says it has been a big success. It has already attracted A-list stars such as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Eminem, and the channel intends to emulate the success in London.

But Westminster Council has thrown out the application over fears that the live show will result in Leicester Square being overwhelmed by hundreds of fans. Another concern is the length of the licence: MTV applied for one to last for 12 years.

It is understood that the Soho Society, a group that campaigns for residents and businesses in the area, also opposed the move.

MTV, which is owned by US media giant Viacom, said it was "disappointed" by the decision but remained in negotiations with the council. In the meantime, the show is due to launch in London on 19 August from one of four as-yet-undisclosed sites. It will go out between 4.30pm and 5.30pm and is trageting the 12- to 24-year-old age range.

Westminster Council is attempting to revamp Leicester Square and shake off its reputation as a centre for drunkenness and petty crime. Experiments include al fresco dining until 1 am. Billionaire US property developer Donald Trump is known to be interested in playing a part in overhauling the square.

Home closed two years ago after undercover police discovered drug dealing at the "superclub" and it lost its licence.

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