London to get a new paper

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The Independent Online
A NEW daily newspaper for London, to be given away free to Underground passengers, is to be launched soon.

Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and London's Evening Standard, confirmed yesterday that it planned to launch the paper "in the New Year". The publishing group is thought to be close to a deal with London Underground to distribute the paper at tube stations.

The journal will compete with other national newspapers. "It's essentially a defensive move, but we would rather we did it than anyone else," said Peter Williams, finance director of Daily Mail & General Trust, Associated's holding company. "The effect on the other morning newspapers will be quite interesting."

It is understood that other publishers had been considering launching similar products.

Mr Williams said the new paper was based on a model which had been used before in other countries.

He declined to confirm the launch budget, which is rumoured to be about pounds 8m. However, he said the figure was "not significant" in the context of the group. "We're not doing this to lose money," he added.

Yesterday, Daily Mail & General Trust reported a pre-tax profit of pounds 188.6m for the year to September - a 30 per cent increase.

However, media analysts questioned the sense of launching a new title in a crowded market at a time when advertising sales are beginning to come under pressure.