Livingstone blow to Metro's monopoly

Richard Desmond's plans to launch a London freesheet received a fillip this week as Ken Livingstone invited tenders for the right to distribute a free London afternoon paper via the Tube.

A pitch for the afternoon contract threatens Associated Newspapers' exclusive distribution deal with Transport for London. Livingstone said: "Exclusive distribution of the Metro doesn't allow Londoners to get the additional benefit of a free afternoon paper."

In a bullish statement, the mayor said TfL will take action to ensure the resolution of a long-running Office of Fair Trading investigation into the Associated deal and on negotiating "appropriate changes" to the agreement with Associated.

The OFT has spent two years investigating the deal, which has run for six years and ends in 2010. If it decides the deal is anti-competitive, the TfL tenders could extend to morning distribution as well as afternoon.