Plans by Rupert Murdoch to plough a reported £100 million ($145m; €160m) into a new freesheet newspaper for London have been frozen after his News International group was trumped to a distribution contract.

Murdoch had intended to take on the city’s existing freesheet Metro and its Associated Newspapers stablemate the Evening Standard by launching a competing title with a print-run of 240,000 in the morning and 400,000 in the afternoon.

The tycoon hoped to grab the London market by winning the distribution contract for the city’s overground rail stations. News International bid over £4m a year for the rights when they came up for renewal recently, more than three times the price previously paid by contract holder Associated.

However, Associated has successfully renewed its agreement with Railtrack (which owns the stations), forcing Murdoch to shelve the planned freesheet indefinitely.

Even with access to railway stations, NI would have difficulty breaking Associated’s grip on the London newspaper market. The publisher of Metro and the Evening Standard has a long-term distribution contract with the London Underground, limiting the ability of rivals to reach the capital’s residents.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff