The publisher is consulting with staff over its free London evening title, and admits it may close the paper in the near future.
An Associated Newspapers spokesman says that if the paper closes, staff will “be freed up to focus more on Metro, which is already the UK’s third biggest national daily newspaper.
“The focus will be on boosting editorial and commercial content in both the Metro newspaper and its website, which continues to grow.”
The possibility of London Lite’s closure comes less than a month after the London Evening Standard switched to become a freesheet, relying entirely on extra advertising revenues it plans to get from raising circulation from 250,000 to 600,000.
Associated managing director Steve Auckland admits that its new competition “dictates that we look again at the future of London Lite” and press buyers back proposals to focus on Metro, which is read by about 3.5 million readers nationwide.
Gabrielle Rossetti, press manager at Arena BLM, says: “The Lite launched as a spoiler for thelondonpaper, and when that closed it had nothing left to compete with and its appeal waned. Content is core and Lite has nothing to offer. Metro, on the other hand, has because it is there at the time when people want to digest news.”
Paul Thomas, investment director of publishing at Mindshare, adds: “Free is reliant on advertising, and Lite has been struggling. The future of [Metro] will rest on the outcome of the TFL contract renewal when it comes up next year.”