'Standard' suffers from London freesheet launch

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The London Evening Standard, owned by Daily Mail & General Trust, saw its sale drop by 8 per cent in September as it suffered from the launch of two new free newspapers for the capital.

One of those newspapers, London Lite, was brought out by DMGT itself, while Rupert Murdoch's News International launched thelondonpaper last month.

The good news for DMGT was that London Lite's average daily circulation for September, 359,389, trumped thelondonpaper, which gave away 327,120. The Standard's sales fell to a new all-time low of 289,254 a day in September, the first time it had dipped below 300,000, according to the ABC official circulation statistics. It was down 7.6 per cent, or 23,9926, from the 313,181 it sold in August and 11.7 per cent lower than September 2005. The sales at full price in September this year were 238,936 ­ excluding discount and free promotional copies.

In September 2001, the Standard's daily circulation was 466,273.

September is traditionally a much better month for newspaper sales than the summer months, when many consumers are on holiday. Analysts said, however, that the Standard's performance was credible, given the scale of the new competition. The newspaper also raised its cover price from 40p to 50p last month.

Lorna Tilbian, of Numis Securities, said: "Twenty-four thousand [sales fall] seems like a small hit to me, so it is a good result for the Standard."

Veronica Wadley, the editor, said: "I am delighted our readers have remained loyal to the Standard. We are holding our core audience and we are reaching that vital, affluent AB market that others find so difficult to reach."