Following the runaway success of upmarket UK daily broadsheet The Independent in offering an alternative tabloid version, The Times will follow suit as of Wednesday.

Like The Independent, The Times will trial its smaller version in the London area -- also hoping to emulate its rival's circulation success which leapt 20,000 almost overnight. The former, which launched its tabloid sister last month, is the world's first newspaper to simultaneously produce content-identical broadsheet and tabloid versions.

Rupert Murdoch, whose News International owns not only The Times but three other national newspapers together accounting for over 35% of UK newspaper readership, revealed last week that The Times would not have gone tabloid had a rival broadsheet not made the first move.

If I had done it (first) I'd have been ridiculed for debasing the Times," he told Italian reporters. "But I'm glad The Independent has gone ahead because now we can try to do it without any problems."

But eyebrows are Sky-high around London's media parish pump at the media tycoon's admission he had been restrained by fear of ridicule -- an apprehension not apparent when considering the appointment of a new chief executive for his UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff