London Lite mulls closure after Evening Standard becomes free

With the London Evening Standard, owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev becoming a free evening newspaper from 12 October, has pushed its only competitor, London Lite mull closing the paper.

London Lite, owned by Associated Newspapers parent Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) has began consultations with 36 staff members over the future of the newspaper.

Associated Newspapers launched the London Lite in 2006 to take on Rupert Murdoch owned News International's the now defunct London Paper as well as the London Evening Standard, which was also a paid-for paper owned by Associated until a consortium led by Lebedev acquired majority control in January 2009. (See: Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev buys London's Evening Standard newspaper)

In September 2009, the London Paper also a free paper, ceased publication after News International said it was part of a cost cutting exercise since the company's UK papers suffered a 14 per cent drop in year-end advertising revenue and the London Paper recorded a pre-tax loss of $21.2 million in fiscal 2008. (See: Murdoch closes London Paper after $21.2 million loss)

This left only the London Evening Standard, then a paid-for paper costing 50 pence and the free London Lite to fight for survival in a fiercely competitive and diminishing market.

But on 12 October, the management of the London Evening Standard decided to drop the cover price of 50 pence and make it into a free newspaper-a move designed to boost the paper's circulation and hoped to cover the loss of £12 million a year by becoming free, through enhanced advertising revenues from higher circulation. (See: London's Evening Standard becomes a free paper)