News Int prepares for freesheet launch

Rupert Murdoch's News International has signalled its intention to bid for the London free afternoon newspaper contract by appointing a senior journalist from the free newspaper publisher Metro International.

Stefano Hatfield will join News International in September as its editorial director (NI projects). A former editor of Campaign, Hatfield is currently the editor-in-chief of Metro in the US, having joined Metro International as the launch editor of its New York edition last year.

Speculation has been mounting that News International will pitch for the publication of a London freesheet, which will be distributed via London public transport in the afternoons.

Associated Newspapers holds the morning contract for free newspaper distribution for its own Metro title.

Hatfield's departure from Metro International was confirmed in an e-mail to Metro staff from its New York publisher, Per Mikael Jensen.

A spokeswoman for News International confirmed Hatfield's appointment but declined to comment further.

News International is likely to face competition from the likes of Associated and Express Newspapers if it does decide to bid for the freesheet.

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