Media Lifeline: Free London newspapers

From Metro to London Weekly, via the London Evening Standard, the free titles keep on coming.

March 1999: Fearing that the Swedish publisher Metro International (which had been publishing a free commuter newspaper in Stockholm since 1995) is about to muscle in on its UK heartland, Associated Newspapers (the then publisher of London's Evening Standard) launches Metro in London. Over the next seven years, Associated rolls out the title to most of the UK's major conurbations.

December 2004: Realising that News International is plotting a free evening title, Associated launches Standard Lite. When NI's thelondonpaper arrives in September 2006, Standard Lite becomes London Lite. Another morning free, City AM, arrived in September 2005.

September 2006: And there's room for weekly magazine formats to get in on the act - for instance, the 2006 launch of Sport magazine, backed by the French company Sport Media Strategie. Handed out by street distributors in London, it's praised by agencies for its high editorial quality. And it's joined a year later by ShortList, a free weekly lifestyle title distributed on Thursday mornings in the UK's main city centres and at transport hubs.

October 2009: The Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev took a controlling interest in the Evening Standard in January 2009. He announces he's to relaunch it as a free, precipitating the closure of thelondonpaper and London Lite. In October, the free Standard arrives, with a goal of shifting 600,000 copies a day.

February 2010: A new entrant plans to capitalise on the demise of London Lite and thelondonpaper - London Weekly, published by Global Publishing Group, is a news digest title also featuring sport and music. Its initial distribution target is 250,000 across Fridays and Saturday mornings; and it claims to have plans to launch editions in other UK cities. Reports suggest Lebedev will remove The Independent's coverprice should he buy the title.

Fast forward

August 2010: In a milestone moment for the newspaper industry, an established quality, The Guardian, announces it is to become a free title. From Monday to Friday it will be available from dump bins. Alan Rusbridger, the paper's editor-in-chief, states that the move is in line with a deeply held philosophy that all things shall be free to all men and women at all times as a matter of right.

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