The Lite Saga

Advertisers and media bureaus interviewed on the UK media website Brand Republic seem somewhat puzzled by the fact that DMGT, the former owner of the Evening Standard is hanging on to the free sister paper of the Standard: London Lite. The general consensus is that there might be room for one free evening paper but not for two.

The strategy of DMGT is to bring Lite closer to the morning paper Metro, meaning probably joint advertising packages and maybe some content sharing now the Standard-well has dried up. Brand Republic:

Karen Wall, previously the assistant managing director of Associated’s free newspaper division (under boss Steve Auckland), has been made the chief operating officer of London Lite, with a brief to develop the brand. And Grant Woodthorpe, the ad director on Metro, has been given an expanded role incorporating London Lite.

The big question, however, is why Lebedev allowed DMGT to go on with a competitor in the evening market. If DMGT wanted to get rid of the Evening Standard so badly, why not close the money-losing Lite at the same time? It would be a win-win for both Lebedev (one competitor less) and DMGT (a bloodletting asset gone).

The move – or rather: not-move – of Lebedev can only be explained by ignorance or because he is not interested in developing a healthy afternoon paper at all (read Roy Greenslade’s accounts on the developments at the Standard). But how can DMGT’s behavior be explained? Why hang on to a product that only was designed to protect The Evening Standard, a paper they no longer own?

Richard Addis cites Rupert Murdoch’s thelondonpaper were the staff thinks it will have the free evening market for themselves and predicts a free morning edition as well. But of course the Lite is still around.

Could it be a boys-thing between Murdoch and Rothermere (DMGT)? High Noon? Neither of them wants to pull out first – nor make peace? This town ain’t big enough for both of us?

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