London, Aug.21 (ANI): Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has retired from the free newspaper battlefield by announcing the closure of The London Paper.
In a rare and embarrassing admission of failure by the world's most famous media mogul, his son James Murdoch, News Corp's chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia, declared the free-newspaper experiment, the subject of intense planning and major investment, had "fallen short of expectations".
The paper, which has a staff of 60, is part of the News Corp subsidiary News International, based in Wapping, east London, and made a pre-tax loss of 12.9 million pounds in the year to June 2008.
The decision appeared to surprise executives at the rival Associated Newspapers, publisher of the free evening title London Lite as well as the nationally distributed free morning paper Metro.
There is a strong likelihood that London Lite, also a loss-making initiative, will close too, although the Standard, sold by Associated to the Russian media mogul Alexander Lebedev this year, may benefit from the shake-up.
News International launched The London Paper in the autumn of 2006 after market research by its then managing director, Clive Milner (now chief operating officer), and the newspaper's editor, Stefano Hatfield.
"The strategy at News International over the past 18 months has been to streamline our operations and focus investment on our core titles," said James Murdoch yesterday, in a statement that follows his father's announcement this month of a drastic fall in profits.
The company's UK papers suffered a 14 per cent drop in year-end advertising revenue, while profits across the global newspaper division fell from 786 million to 466 million dollars. (ANI)