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28/09/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Ijust got back from London, covered in bruises after being assaulted by hundreds of people trying to give me free newspapers. I exaggerate, but it certainly seems to be battle of les journaux gratuits in my old home town. Let me give you the back­ground. For many years, the evening newspaper market was dominated by the Evening Standard, which costs 50p. That's until recently, when the owners of the Evening Standard realised they were not selling as many copies. So they launched their own free newspaper, London Lite.

All seemed well until media mogul Rupert Murdoch decided to launch his own free evening newspaper, The London Paper, earlier this month. He prints about 400,000 copies every day. Now, just after lunchtime, the London streets are full of young people giving away free newspapers. I must admit that I felt more attracted by The London Paper, mainly because the people distributing it wear nice purple uniforms. (www.thelondonpaper.com)

Of course, these are not the only free newspapers in town. In the morning, Londoners can read Metro and 20 Minutes, like everyone else. There's also a free financial newspaper called City AM. And finally, homeless people are still selling The Big Issue for whatever price you're willing to give them. This resulted in the best joke of the day, when one of them said to me : « I bet you a pound you don't want to buy a Big Issue. » He got his money. You don't need to give things away when you're a great salesman.

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