After many months of speculation, Rupert Murdoch and News International announced today that the organisation will make a return to the Sunday tabloid market with the launch of the Irish Sun Sunday edition. The first edition of the new title will launch this Sunday, 26th February.
After Rupert Murdoch was initially quoted as saying that the launch would be “very soon”, the announcement that the first issue will launch this coming weekend has still caught the industry by surprise. Quoted in the Irish Sun on Monday (20th February), Mr.Murdoch states that “We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday…I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs.” Whether the shareholders of News Corporation will display such enthusiasm for this launch remains to be seen, as many have called for the newspaper division of the company to be sold off, particularly in light of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World last year. What it does demonstrate is Rupert Murdoch’s determination and belief in the power of The Sun and newspapers as a whole. Even more so considering the timing of the launch, as it comes amidst the Operation Elveden investigation and being just over six months since the closure of the News of the World. Murdoch has always been known as a “newspaper man” and his determination to re-enter the Sunday tabloid market is yet further proof of this.
In an Irish context, the launch of the Irish Sun this Sunday will present News International with a serious challenge. The Sunday newspaper market has shown further decline in 2011, with Sunday readership now at 63% of all adults in 2011 vs. 69% of all adults in 2010 . With the demise of the Irish News of the World last July, the majority of its readers did not switch to another newspaper, as the only rival title to see any kind of uplift in readers was the Irish Sunday Mirror, which saw an increase of +40,000 readers. The challenge for the Irish Sun on Sunday will be firstly to bring Irish Sun readers across to the new Sunday version and also to see whether they can recruit any of the lapsed Irish News of the World readership. Neither should be taken as a given in the current market but it should be interesting to see. At the very least, it will help to bring some energy back into the Irish newspaper market and, hopefully, generate additional competition between rival publishers in delivering value to readers and advertisers.
Garret Monahan – Head of Press
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