Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail, has prepared a new red-top Sunday tabloid to fill a void in the market left by the closure of the News of the World by media rival News International.
The paper, called Sunday, has been produced in dummy format with the aim of capturing a slice of the 2.6 million sales which the News of the World enjoyed before it was closed by Rupert Murdoch's company earlier this month over the phone-hacking scandal. Associated has earmarked a cover price of 50p – half of that of the News of the World – and targeted an initial circulation of 500,000.
But the launch plans have been placed on hold following increased sales of the same publisher's Mail on Sunday title, which enjoyed a sharp uplift in circulation of around 30 per cent last Sunday when its price was reduced to £1. More traditional rivals to the News of the World enjoyed even bigger increases, with the Sunday Mirror adding 700,000 sales, The People putting on more than 350,000 and Richard Desmond's Daily Star Sunday expanding by 500,000.
Analysis of the market shows that, following the demise of the News of the World, the middle market of the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express has grown by about a third, while the red-top sector has shrunk from 51 per cent to some 43 per cent. The figures are believed to have encouraged Associated to hold off bringing Sunday to the newsstand, and a mooted launch this weekend has been ruled out.
The Mail on Sunday, now Britain's biggest-selling Sunday with 2.44 million sales, may be expanded to a broader package.
Associated Newspapers declined to comment.