London's streets are awaiting the appearance of a new contender in the battle for the eyeballs and wallets of the city's commuters.

Associated Newspapers, publisher of the paid-for Evening Standard, which enjoys a longstanding monopoly of the London afternoon and evening market, is reportedly preparing to launch London Lite, a spoiler designed to disrupt News International's imminent freebie thelondonpaper.

Associated could scrap its current Standard Lite free paper (a pared-down version of the paid-for title) in a bid to protect ad revenues and the Standard's 300,000 circulation via the new entertainment-driven free afternoon title.

The company, which also publishes the free morning title Metro, was compelled to cede its exclusive distribution rights on London's Underground rail network after an investigation by competition regulators [WAMN: 11-Apr-05].

The decision opened the way for rivals to launch a free afternoon title. A contract was put out to tender by Transport for London, which runs the city's stations, but NI decided to go ahead with its own entry into the market ahead of any formal decision.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff