Advertising worries lead to hiatus for left-wing weekly

By Sarah Lagan

An alternative free weekly for London’s politically liberal
commuters is to stop publishing over the summer period after just three
months to raise investment for a possible September relaunch.

The London Line was launched to challenge the existing “right-wing” London
press, which it claimed focused too heavily on crime stories and
opinion pieces about mortgages, with “nothing relevant to the millions
who voted Ken or supported Live8”.

All five editorial staff will
be kept on, though not all will be employed on a full-time basis over
the summer. The paper’s website, which was redesigned this Thursday,
will continue through the two-month period.

Publisher Damian Kahya said advertising was increasing by about 10 per cent each week, which he felt was too slow.

He said publishing the paper over the summer, when advertising usually dips, would lose the business too much money.

Distribution,
which started at 40,000, hit a low point six weeks ago of about 35,000
after the distribution operation was brought in-house.

The paper
is talking to a number of major regional newspaper publishers as well
as venture capitalists and business angels while it liaises with
advertising agencies.

It is also bringing in a new advertising team to help boost the business’s commercial side.

If
London Line gets the required investment, the relaunch will involve
increasing pagination from 28 to 32, while expanding its news coverage
and Weekend Planner section.

Editor Joy Lo Dico said: “I am
feeling very optimistic and believe that taking a two-month break is a
great idea in allowing us to consolidate everything we have done so far.

“We have worked out how to get the editorial right. “In the last two weeks of publication the [distribution] bins were empty, which is a great sign.”

The
paper, which has been distributed at key commuter points through out
the city, also hopes to expand distribution on its return and has
long-term plans to reach 70,000.

There is also a distribution deal to get London Line given out in coffee shops if it returns to publication.

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