The London Evening Standard's monopoly on the free commuter newspaper market in the capital will be shortlived – because a rival title is to be launched next year.
Despite the collapse of both London Lite and thelondonpaper in recent months, a company called Global Publishing Group is preparing to launch The London Weekly on 1 February.
Global Publishing – which describes itself as a partnership set up by five private investors last year – has raised about £10.5m to launch the title and plans to distribute 250,000 copies at Underground stations on Fridays and Saturdays.
The company said it will be "the only free newspaper in London covering light entertainment, gossip, politics, health, music and fashion" – which may surprise the readers of the Standard. The London Weekly has already set up offices and its website will go live later this month. It is also looking to get readers to contribute about 30 per cent of the paper's content and to post news and videos on its website.
The news emerged days after the Standard dropped its early edition, published at noon, following the collapse of its two rivals. The 182-year-old newspaper, bought by the Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev at the start of the year, surprised the market when it announced plans to drop its 50p cover price and go free. It planned to make up the drop in revenues by increasing circulation – and hence the amount it could charge advertisers – from 250,000 copies a day to 600,000.
London Lite, owned by the Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers, closed earlier this month. thelondonpaper, which was owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, announced it would close in August.
A number of weekly magazines, such as Shortlist, TNT and Sport, are also handed out outside Underground stations.