Sun on Sunday replaces News of the World

Sunday 26 February 2012 21.43
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'The Sun On Sunday' newspapers roll off the printing presses
'The Sun On Sunday' newspapers roll off the printing presses
'The Sun On Sunday' as it comes off the presses (R) and Rupert Murdoch with the first edition of 'The Sun' in 1969
'The Sun On Sunday' as it comes off the presses (R) and Rupert Murdoch with the first edition of 'The Sun' in 1969

Rupert Murdoch's Sun on Sunday tabloid is on the news stands for the first time today, with the tycoon saying he wanted the paper replacing the scandal-hit News of the World to sell over two million copies.

The 80-year-old personally attended a printworks in Hertfordshire, north of London, on Saturday night to oversee the production of what he hopes will be the most-read weekly newspaper in Britain.

The front page featured an interview with Amanda Holden, a British television personality who came near death after the birth of her daughter, with the headline: "My heart stopped for 40 seconds."

The paper stuck largely to the daily paper's format, keeping the usual large red masthead saying "The Sun" and just adding a small yellow sun and the word "Sunday" beneath it to show that is the weekly edition.

It also features new columnists such as Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the second-highest ranking cleric in the Church of England, and former glamour model Katie Price, also known as Jordan.

The new paper is being sold at a knockdown price of 50 pence in a move that has already sparked a price war with some of Murdoch's rivals.

He wrote on the microblogging-site Twitter on Friday: "Great speculation, sweeps, etc on Sunday's sale. I will be very happy at anything substantially over two million!"

British media reported that three million copies of the new paper were being printed.

Murdoch flew into Britain on 16 February to take charge of a crisis at The Sun after several senior journalists were arrested over allegations of bribery involving public officials.

The following day he visited The Sun's offices in London to announce the surprise launch of a seventh-day Sun, just seven months after the News of the World was closed by a scandal over the hacking of mobile phone voicemails.

The bold move was an apparent attempt to both wrongfoot critics and staff reportedly angry that his US-based News Corporation media empire had given police the information that led to some of the arrests.

It has also been seen as a way of reassuring News Corp. shareholders in the US that the firm is trying to move on from the News of the World scandal.

Two million sales would make the new edition comfortably the most-read weekly newspaper in Britain, topping the 1.9 million circulation of The Mail on Sunday.

Murdoch has also announced that the Sun on Sunday is "completely sold out for advertising" and said its 50 pence cover price was "great news for readers and the economy".

However, sales of 2.75 million are needed to match the daily edition of The Sun's average circulation and the sort of sales figures achieved by the News of the World.