Alexander Lebedev is to launch a cut-price daily national newspaper next Tuesday aimed at the quality market.
The paper, called i, will launch as a spin-off version of The Independent with a cover price of just 20 pence targeting “readers and lapsed readers of quality newspapers”.
A statement from the owners of The Independent said this morning the new paper would aim to serve “those of all ages who want a comprehensive digest of the news in printed form. i will combine intelligence with brevity, and depth with speed of reading, providing an essential daily briefing.”
The launch will be signalled with an outdoor advertising campaign created by Trevor Beattie of the BMB agency and coincide with a redesign of parent paper, The Independent, which will continue to sell for £1, the same price as The Guardian and The Times.
Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, will take on the additional duty of editing i.
Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of Independent Print Ltd who owns The Independent, said: “I am very proud to launch i, which will be the first quality daily paper to have launched in Britain since The Independent itself in 1986.
“My father [Alexander Lebedev] and I believe that a free press is a fundamental tool of a democracy, and we believe that newspapers still have a future, and a very important one.
“We have shown by our investment in the London Evening Standard that, even in these highly competitive times, it is possible to revive a brand, and we aim to do the same with The Independent by the launch of i and the improvements to the parent paper.”
The launch comes after much speculation that The Independent would ape the London Evening Standard – with which it shares an owner and a headquarters – by attempting to arrest its circulation decline by going free in the capital.
Andrew Mullins, managing director of The Independent, said: “Quality newspapers provide a highly valuable audience for advertisers, but recently print circulations have been in decline and the average age of the audience has been increasing.
“Time-poor newspaper readers, and especially commuters, have been telling us for years that they are inundated with information and just don’t have the time to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis.
“We are creating a newspaper for the 21st century that is designed for people who have a thirst for information and entertainment in the limited time that they have available. i is a reader-led newspaper with broad reach and intelligence.”
The launch of the new paper follows The Independent trialling new formats earlier in the year. During the run-up to the general election the publisher gave away a slimmed-down version of The Independent at a number of London tube stations.
Kelner said: “With the launch of i, we are again doing something radical and new, creating a paper for today that retains the essential qualities of The Independent.
“Ever since The Independent launched, the paper has had a reputation for innovation and boldness and now we are creating the first post-modern newspaper, attractive to those who prize intelligence, convenience and desirability.”