London Evening Standard To Go Free

50p price tag removed in bid to stem falling circulation figures

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After more than 180 years bringing afternoon news to Londoners at a price - currently 50p - the Evening Standard is to go free.

The newspaper which is 75.1% owned by Alexander Lebedev and 24.9% owned by Associated newspapers, will be free from 12 October.

The decision follows News International's closure of London Paper last month and casts doubt over the future of the Standard's free sister newspaper London Lite.

The distribution of the Evening Standard will increase from about 250,000 to 600,000 copies a day.

"I am confident that more than doubling the London Evening Standard's circulation and maintaining its quality journalism is what London deserves," Lebedev told Media Guardian. "The Standard has been producing exceptional journalism since 1827 and that is not going to change under my ownership. The London Evening Standard is the first leading quality newspaper to go free and I am sure others will follow."

The Evening Standard managing director, Andrew Mullins, admitted that "sustaining a paid-for afternoon newspaper had its challenges even before the freesheets [London Paper and London Lite] were launched in 2006". "There are so many competing distractions to potential readers, particularly with new technologies," he said.

October 2, 2009