London's Evening Standard becomes a free paper

The London Evening Standard, owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev has become a free newspaper from today - a revolutionary move designed to boost the paper's circulation from 250,000 to more than 600,000.

Londoners will not have to pay the 50 pence they have been currently paying for the 182 year-old paper even as the paper stands to lose about £12 million a year by becoming free, which it hopes to make up through enhnced advertising revenues from a higher circulation.

With the global media world carefully monitoring the switchover from a paid to a free paper, the management of the Evening Standard said that the paper will maintain its quality of journalism and none of the editorial would change with the paper going free.

Lebedev, chairman of Evening Standard, has said doubling the paper's circulation and "maintaining its quality journalism" is what London deserves.

"The Standard has been producing exceptional journalism since 1827 and that is not going to change under my ownership," he added.

"The London Evening Standard is the first leading quality newspaper to go free and I am sure others will follow."