New name, new day for Milton Keynes Sunday

MK News: comes out mid-week

Local Sunday Newspapers has closed its free Milton Keynes on Sunday and will publish in the town on Wednesdays as MK News.

It has switched days to take advantage of the gap left by the Milton Keynes Extra, whose publishers, Storm Publishing, went into voluntary liquidation last Friday.

Gerry West and Simon Abra, founders of the Milton Keynes Citizen, now owned by Johnston Press, had started the failed Extra six months ago, first as a property paper .

MKoS was launched in January 1997. Almost immediately the Citizen launched the Sunday Citizen. Both Johnston papers will continue to publish on Thursdays and Sundays.

Mike Richardson, the LSN managing director, said his company had been looking at a midweek launch for some time. "MKoS has created a market but it was being stifled by Johnston’s cheaper-advertising alternative," he said.

"But going up against Britain’s biggest free newspaper was a daunting task. The closure of Extra gave us the impetus not to allow its advertising to dissipate into the market. Rather than let somebody else supply an alternative, we filled the gap ourselves."

Now, said Richardson, MK News would be the largest free newspaper in the UK because it would be going into Buckingham as well.

He added: "We pulled all the stops out to launch this week. We didn’t make the decision until last Thursday and we pulled it out in three working days – changing the distribution network and the shifts for editorial staff. The staff have done us proud."

All 15 Sunday staff remain and it is probable that the number will increase. Editor David Gale has seven journalists. The first print run was 90,000, rising to 104,000 as the paper penetrates Buckingham. The first issue ran to 48 pages, and Richardson hopes it will settle at 64 to 72 pages.

Jo Rideout, managing director of Premier Newspapers, the Johnston division to which the Citizen belongs, said: "Over the past 21 years the Citizen has seen a number of rival publishing ventures come and go."

She said the company sees Sunday as an increasingly attractive publishing day, particularly bearing in mind the relocation of Wimbledon Football Club to Milton Keynes.

By Jean Morgan

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