The Abcs

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The Independent Online

These are turbulent times for almost all titles but especially for the London Evening Standard, which is starting to bleed heavily from the damage it is receiving in the ongoing newspaper war in the capital.

The Standard's ABC was inevitably down 11.7 per cent year-on-year in September after the launch of two daily freesheets - News International's thelondonpaper and Associated's London Lite.

Last month the paid-for paper deteriorated even further, down 14.4 per cent year-on-year. Look behind the Standard's headline sale of 281,915 and the prognosis is bleaker still. That figure has been achieved only thanks to the addition of 23,000 bulk copies. Full-rate sales are at 225,191, which is more than 70,000 down on a year ago.

The practice of bulking up is hardly confined to the Standard. All the quality papers bulked actively last month in an effort to keep abreast of the high figures they posted in September 2005, when the flurry of promotional activity that accompanied the relaunch of The Guardian gave the sector a significant lift.

The Daily Telegraph bulked most heavily but in doing so maintained its 900,000 sale, a reassuring number for editor Will Lewis as he battles to convince staff that his newsroom of the future is the right way forward.