Associated unveils freesheet spoiler

Associated Newspapers has confirmed that it plans to fight back against News International's thelondonpaper with its own afternoon freesheet.

It will launch London Lite next month. The London title will have a print run of between 300,000 and 400,000 copies and will be distributed in zone one by Standard vendors and distributors.

Associated is still working on dummies of the title, which is expected to appear in early September, ahead of thelondonpaper's planned 18 September launch.

The new paper will be aimed at a younger audience than the Standard. A Standard source said: "This is a real newspaper, with a real identity and a really bouncy feel."

As reported in Campaign last week (11 August), the launch of London Lite also sees Associated scrapping Standard Lite, the free edition of the Standard, which was launched in late 2004. Standard Lite has an average circulation of 78,986.

The Standard is also set to increase its coverprice to 50p as part of a bid to position itself as "London's quality paid-for newspaper".

Associated is thought to be bracing for declines of up to 100,000 in the Standard's circulation as competition increases in the London market. In July, the Standard's circulation fell by 19.3 per cent to 300,993.

The Standard is also re-launching its website, www.thisislondon.co.uk, to provide more in-depth information.

Thelondonpaper will be distributed later in the day than London Lite, between 4.30pm and 7.30pm. However, its 400,000 print run and young target audience are in line with London Lite's.

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