Last week Rupert Murdoch told us that the Sun on Sunday will launch very soon.
He wasn’t kidding. Last night the news broke that The Sun on Sunday will launch this coming Sunday, February 26. The announcement comes seven months after News Corporation shut down the troubled News of the World.
The launch of the paper is announced boldly on the front page of the Sun this morning.
“Next weekend will see the birth of the first ever Sunday edition of your favourite paper. Rupert Murdoch announced last week that The Sun on Sunday would be coming “very soon”. Now that momentous new dawn is here.”
Staff at News International were told of the launch last night. CEO Tom Mockridge, said: “This is our moment. I am sure every one of us will seize the opportunity to pull together and deliver a great new dawn for The Sun this Sunday.”
The article announcing the arrival of The Sun on Sunday in the Sun is all about looking back at past successes, looking at the Sun’s long history, highlighing some of its big front page splashes from the death of Michael Jackon and Bin Laden, to ‘Freddie Star ate my hamster and the marriages of Diana and Prince Charles to that of Kate and Prince William, and how that is all now being taken forward into a seven day operation. It is, the piece says, all about the readers and giving them what they want and it quotes a few welcoming its launch.
“Forty-three years ago when Rupert Murdoch first launched a new-look Sun, we promised that YOU, our readers, would be at the heart of all we do.
“Giving our readers what they want has remained our mantra — and that is why you have made us the most popular paper in the English language.
“Now we are answering your clamour for a Sunday edition of the nation’s favourite paper.”
With 2.7 million daily sales Murdoch can make that kind of claim comfortably. What will be interesting is how many of the 2.6 million who bought the News of the World every week, many of whom are now not buying a newspaper, will return to the News International fold and replace the News of the World with The Sun on Sunday?
My guess is quite a few and that the Sun on Sunday will achieve sales in excess of two million. Not least because of the buzz that will be created, but also because of the promotional power the Sun brand brings to the newspaper market.
On Saturday, the Sun tweeted a a quote from Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, which recently won News International’s £28m advertising account, saying how the ad group would like to see the paper:
Advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell: “We’d like to see a Sun on Sunday, a new launch in the market. People are becoming too vindictive”.
— Sun Politics (@Sun_Politics) February 19, 2012
On Friday media buyers speculated that the launch of the Sun on Sunday could have the potential to shake up the market and achieve massive sales.
You can also bet that the NotW’s top advertisers who include Tesco, Asda, MOrrison’s, 02, Argos and DFS will all be there at the launch.
I wrote last year when speculation first surfaced about The Sun on Sunday that I thought it would be a success. We will soon see.
Sun Editor Dominic Mohan said it was “a truly historic moment in newspaper publishing” adding that the Sun’s future can now be reshaped as a unique seven-day proposition in both print and digital”.
There are no details about staff or whether the paper will have a separate editor. Last Summer there was speculation that the editor of The Sun on Sunday could be Victoria Newton.
Although ther is no confirmation of that it is being reported that she will have a senior role at the title.
If Newton gets the job she will join colleague Dominic Mohan, another former Bizarre editor, who is now editor of the Sun. Other Bizarre editors who went on to become editors Piers Morgan and, of course, Andy Coulson.
One name we know for sure will be there will be David Wooding, the former political editor of the News of the World. He told BBC Radio 5 Live that he would be resuming his old position at the new title.
He also told Sky News that the announcement had come as a surprise: “We heard rumours of a date in April. This evening, astonishingly, we are told it’s going to happen next week. We don’t even know what the staffing levels will be at this stage. I’m told there will be extra staff taken on but this is not the News of the World in another guise, this is The Sun publishing on another day.”
It is also expected that the News of the World’s Sunday magazine Fabulous, which moved to the Saturday Sun when the paper closed, will form part of the new paper.
The launch will certainly restore some of the battered confidence in the Sun newsroom after the arrest of ten journalists, which has led to talk of unrest and Sun journalists considering a human rights challenge against the News Corp inquiry team.