Between the Lines: Papers prepare to go to war

The launch of a newspaper in the UK is a rare, and sometimes bloody, event. And well it should be.

It is one of the most competitive markets in the business arena and its protagonists will stop at nothing to protect their market share.

Not surprising, then, that News International's thelondonpaper was secretly planning to come out two weeks in advance of its launch date; not surprising that the story was leaked to the press; not surprising that Associated has reacted by bringing forward the launch date of its London Lite (page 1).

Campaign's phones have been hot with tales of copycat manoeuvres and spoiler tactics and both sides are showing signs of paranoia. But this is because there's a lot at stake.

The wider newspaper advertising market is weak; advertiser interest is down and the internet is stealing readers. Under such conditions, the London freesheets offer proprietors the kind of growth potential that has become rare. To the victor, the spoils.