Standard goes free from today

The London Evening Standard will today become a free newspaper and double its circulation, a move that has already led to record ad revenues.<br /><br />The 182-year-old title announced earlier this month that it would drop its 50p cover charge and increase the number of copies it prints to 600,000 per day, in what many have dubbed a &ldquo;make or break&rdquo; attempt to survive in a fiercely competitive market place.<br /><br />London Evening Standard managing director Andrew Mullins said at the time that &ldquo;sustaining a paid-for afternoon newspaper had its challenges even before the freesheets were launched&rdquo; and that &ldquo;being a quality newspaper with large scale and reach&rdquo; could transform its commercial fortunes.<br /><br />Mullins said&nbsp; last night that today is the &ldquo;highest Monday I can remember since I joined nearly two years ago&rdquo; in advertising terms. <br /><br />However he added that this may be due to advertisers taking advantage of the rates, which will only begin to increase in-line with the circulation next week.<br /><br />&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t say we&rsquo;ve sorted it yet,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;But it has been encouraging.&rdquo;<br /><br />The move to a free title comes eight months after Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev&nbsp; bought the loss-making title from the Daily Mail and General Trust.<br />