Independent owner yet to receive a single offer for the newspaper

Evgeny Lebedev speaks to ITV News. Credit: ITV News

The owner of the Independent has been looking for someone to take on the newspaper since the beginning of the year.

Today Evgeny Lebedev admitted, although there have been expressions of interest, he has yet to receive a single offer.

Be honest. If you were the son or daughter of a Russian billionaire would you opt to spend your time 1) falling out of Mayfair nightclubs in a state of alcohol fuelled disarray or 2) strike out in business on your own.

And even if the entrepreneurial spirit was irresistible would you really regard the newspaper industry (circulation in steep decline) as a sensible place to pour you time, energy and money?

Five years ago when the Lebedev family bought the Evening Standard for £1 (at the time enough to buy you two copies of the newspaper) there was a lot of private smirking.

A Russian billionaire (and former KGB agent) had just snapped-up a newspaper that was loss-making, laden with debt and losing a circulation battle with rivals, which were being given away for free.

A year later, Alexander Lebedev, bought the Independent and Sunday Independent titles (also loss-making) and went on to install his son as chairman.

Evgeny Lebedev has had some success. Four years ago the newspaper titles were losing £50m between them, today they are losing closer to £5m. In 2009, the Evening Standard cost 50p and circulation had fallen to 250,000. Today, the newspaper is free and 900,000 copies are given away every day.

The launch of the "i" (as the name suggests an concise version of the Independent) has also worked well, and it is that rare things nowadays: a "paid-for" newspaper that is attracting readers.

The Independent itself though still looks in a state of gradual decline - average daily circulation in the six months to February was 67,473. Ten years ago it stood at around 250,000.

The Indy has been up for sale since January but to-date Mr Lebedev told me he hadn't received a single offer. He says he remains committed to the paper, that it has a future and that he hadn't shelved the idea of giving it away for free too.

Mr Lebedev told ITV News: "We've looked at that and one day it may come to that but because they (Independent and Independent on Sunday) are national papers the complications are difficult, compared to a London evening paper."

Evegeny Lebedev was born in Russia but has lived in London since he was eight. He has British citizenship, owns a pub and today launched a new TV channel devoted to the capital.

London Live has a budget of £15m a year and intends to serve up news, current affairs, comedy, film and live theatre. His aim is that the channel will be attracting an audience share of one per cent within three years and and is fully funded for the next four.

In the United States and in Canada "city-tv" seems to thrive but the idea has been tried before in the UK, without much success. Topless dart and news bunnies delivered publicity for Live TV and its boss, Kelvin Mackenzie, but never really caught on.

Mr Lebedev is optimistic, as he puts it "Take a risk, you may succeed, you may not...we've succeeded with newspapers. The new challenge is television."