On the pavements of London, the battle lines are drawn between newspaper giants

One is the world's most powerful media tycoon; the other is the head of Britain's pre-eminent newspaper dynasty. And when London's new evening tabloid, TheLondonPaper, is launched, the two are expected to go head to head in a vicious and increasingly hostile circulation war on the pavements of the capital.

The battle will pit Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media tycoon and a long-standing scourge of the establishment, against the Fleet Street magnate Jonathan Harold Vere Harmsworth, the fourth Lord Rothermere.

Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Evening Standard and Daily Mail, opened hostilities yesterday with an aggressive pre-emptive strike against Mr Murdoch's forthcoming launch. In a carefully managed announcement, the company revealed plans to distribute London Lite, a new free evening paper, to 400,000 commuters in central London. It also plans to relaunch the Standard's This is London internet site.

The new titles - which involve investments of millions of pounds - will be in contention from the middle of next month. Murdoch's News International has already decided to launch TheLondonPaper on 19 September.

Mr Murdoch has been planning his launch for more than a year, and hopes to eat into the Standard's fragile circulation, which recently recorded a 19 percent year-on-year fall to 300,000.

"We have done countless bits of market research, and the feeling is that the Evening Standard has lost the support of Londoners," said a source at News International. "People feel that it is full of doom and gloom and does London down. TheLondonPaper has been designed as a direct contrast. It is aimed at younger readers, and is colourful and upbeat.

"This will be Rupert Murdoch's first-ever UK newspaper launch, and he's not going to let it fail. We've done our groundwork, and intend to make it work. In the past, Rothermere's only competition in this market has been from people like Robert Maxwell. Rupert is a completely different prospect, and intends to hurt him. Regardless of this new title, he has no intention of going away."

News International's free paper is to be edited by The Independent's media columnist Stefano Hatfield and will employ a combined editorial and advertising staff of about 70.

Associated Newspapers is keeping details of its new title under wraps, although the editor is expected to be the former Daily Mail executive Martin Clarke. Last year, he launched Standard Lite, a slimmed-down lunchtime version of the Evening Standard, which will now be scrapped. Other staff moves have yet to be announced, but the paper is believed to have hired another veteran Mail journalist, John McEntee, to edit its gossip column.

Both London Lite and TheLondonPaper will initially be distributed by hand. But the two titles are also battling to secure important contracts to distribute through mainline and London Underground stations.

The free morning paper Metro has exclusive rights to distribute via stations until 2010, but a recent ruling by the Office of Fair Trading means access to the afternoon market will be widened next year.

The success of Metro, which was launched in 1999 and now boasts a circulation of 900,000, has led to widespread speculation that the age of the paid-for newspaper could be on the wane. But Associated Newspapers last night denied speculation that London Lite will eventually replace its paid-for sister title, which has been losing money for the past five years.

The Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley hinted yesterday that her newspaper would reposition itself as an upmarket title. It is expected to increase its cover price from 40p to 50p next month.

"We intend to build on the Evening Standard's great reputation for news and quality journalism," she said in a statement. "The paper has the highest number of AB readers of any newspaper in London, and the largest circulation of any national paper in the capital with the exception of the Daily Mail. If you want to know what's really going on in London, you must buy the Evening Standard."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...