2 Oct 2009 19:06


LONDON, Oct 2 (Interfax) - Distribution of the London newspaper Evening Standard, which is owned by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev, will become free as of October 12 in order to keep the ailing publication afloat, British media outlets reported on Friday.

The paper's circulation will be increased from its current 235,977 copies to 600,000 copies, which will be distributed freely in central London near the city's underground system and railway stations. By Christmas, the Evening Standard's circulation will reach 750,000 copies.

The Times reported that this was the first time the Evening Standard would be free in its 182-year history.

The Times quoted Lebedev as saying that the paper was: "the first leading quality newspaper to go free " and that he was "sure others will follow."

Lebedev acquired 75% in Evening Standard in January 2009. Daily Mail & General Trust holds the remaining 25%.