Associated firms up plans for free lunchtime Standard

LONDON - The Evening Standard is proposing to name its mooted free lunchtime version Standard Lunchtime Edition.

As revealed in Campaign, the Standard is considering a move to bolster its paid-for circulation by launching the "lite" midday edition ahead of a possible London free-paper launch from Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers.

The proposed launch moved a stage closer this week with a detailed presentation on Monday to Lord Rothermere, the chairman of Associated Newspapers, and Kevin Beattie, its managing director.

Standard insiders confirmed that Martin Clarke, the assistant editor of the Mail on Sunday, is working on the freesheet project, which is aimed at reviving the Standard's flagging paid-for circulation. However, its October circulation grew by 3.6% on September's to reach 381,186, helped by 52,834 bulk copies.

The Standard's lunchtime free edition could be withdrawn from the newsstands each day in time to make way for the newspaper's later, paid-for editions.

Recent reports have suggested that Express Newspapers is close to launching its free title under the name London-i. However, the newspaper group is still waiting for a decision from the Office of Fair Trading on whether Associated's exclusive distribution deal with London Transport is anti-competitive.

Mike Anderson, the managing director of the Standard, was unavailable for comment.

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