TfL cancels London afternoon freesheet contract

LONDON - Government department Transport for London has decided not to award a contract for a free afternoon newspaper, which was due to be distributed across the London Underground network, because the bids were not big enough.

The move is a reverse on plans outlined in a tender, sent to interested parties in the summer, and will now leave Associated Newspaper's Metro title with a monopoly on distribution within London Underground stations.

The freesheet battle has recently hotted up with the introduction of the News International title thelondonpaper and Associated's own London Lite. Both titles are distributed by hand outside stations in the afternoon. Earlier this month, it was reported that News International had pulled out of the bidding for the contract.
It is understood that TfL wrote to Associated Newspapers to inform them of the decision last week, stating that bids for the contract had not been high enough, and of News International's decision not to pursue the distribution contract. In October, thelondonpaper won the contract to be distributed at 10 Network Rail stations in the capital.

The contract means the News International-owned freesheet will be able to distribute Monday to Friday from 3pm and will be exposed to up to 1m commuters a day.

More than half of rail passenger journeys begin or end at one of Network Rail's terminals. The award means that the News International freesheet, which launched in September this year, has the exclusive contract to be distributed in the London stations Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, Fenchurch Street, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo.

The contract will not affect Associated Newspaper's rights to distribute Metro at Network Rail-managed stations.

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