London commuters set to get free paper

The way has been cleared for a new afternoon or evening newspaper to be distributed to London commuters, following the completion of an OFT investigation.

The investigation centred on the exclusive rights of Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publishers of the London free morning newspaper 'Metro' and the Evening Standard, to distribute the Metro via London Underground, Network Rail and various train operating companies' (TOC) stations in and around London.

The OFT had concerns that, by excluding rivals' newspapers from stations 24 hours a day, despite the fact that the Metro is only distributed in the morning, the exclusivity granted by these agreements went beyond what could be objectively justified. The OFT was particularly concerned that the agreements prevented competing publishers from distributing a free evening newspaper to London commuters, given the importance of access to stations for ensuring sufficient distribution.

ANL has now offered to give up its rights to the afternoon/evening distribution slots, allowing London Underground, Network Rail and the relevant TOCs to re-tender those rights. ANL has also offered to allow third party access to its distribution racks in stations and make reasonable room for third party branding.

The OFT will shortly be consulting third parties through publication of a formal commitments notice, which will set out in more detail how ANL's proposed commitments address the OFT's competition concerns.

If the consultation process confirms the OFT's preliminary position, it intends to make a decision to accept binding commitments and close its file.

The OFT launched its investigation under the Competition Act 1998 in 2003 into the exclusive agreements between ANL and London Underground, Network Rail and various train operating companies following a complaint from Northern & Shell, which publishes the Daily Express.

Northern & Shell alleged that it was unable to launch a free afternoon/evening paper in competition with the Evening Standard as a result of ANL's exclusive rights over distribution in London stations.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

08 May 2009
Man Jailed For Attempted Murder Of Pc
A south London man has been jailed for 25 years for tying to shoot a policeman. Michael Mitchell, 32, of Babington Road, Streatham, was convicted of attempting to murder Pc Shaun Callow, possession of a firearm and possession of drugs with intent to supply.
07 April 2010
East London Murder Appeal
Detectives have appealed for information about the murder of a woman in Manor Park. Aliza Ahmed Mirza, 18, a student from Ilford, died on Saturday 3 April. Police had been called to reports of a collapsed female. It is believed she was stabbed while in the Forest View Road area. Miss Mirza was taken to hospital but later pronounced dead.
08 August 2011
New Essex Power Station Gets Underway
The UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry has given the go-ahead for InterGen’s proposals to construct a new 900MW gas power plant at the London Gateway Logistics Park, Coryton, Essex. The plans are for a new £600 million power station comprising of up to two CCGT generating units, each around 450MW in capacity.
23 April 2004
Blueprint unveiled for film-friendly London
London’s new film and media agency, Film London, has unveiled a variety of measures aimed at making the Capital more film-friendly.
26 July 2011
London Tube Stations Become Listed Buildings
Oxford Circus and Covent Garden are among 16 Underground stations given Grade II listed status today by Heritage Minister John Penrose, on the advice of English Heritage.