Associated hastens London Lite debut

Associated Newspapers is to debut its London Lite free newspaper next Wednesday.

The decision is the latest salvo in the battle against the impending launch of News International's planned free newspaper thelondonpaper, which this week announced it was moving its launch forward two weeks to 4 September.

London Lite, which replaces Associated's Standard Lite product, will launch on 30 August, according to Guy Zitter, the managing director of the Daily Mail. However, he warned the launch date could change at short notice - up until 9pm the day before publication - if that were necessary to get a competitive edge.

The shifting launch dates and scramble for information on rival plans are indicative of the fierce nature of the battle for London readers.

Thelondonpaper is muttering about copy-cat tactics: London Lite is rumoured to have a maroon masthead; thelondonpaper's will be purple.

Zitter said the primary focus of London Lite "is to give the consumers what they want; thelondonpaper seems more preoccupied with giving advertisers what they want. The battle will be won by what the readers want."