Plan for new Sunday tabloid

Life on Sunday: ‘wholesome, family-orientated’

lans have been unveiled for a new national Sunday tabloid that will eschew celebrity stories for a diet of news that is more “wholesome and family orientated”.

Life on Sunday is based on market research which reportedly shows there is a large segment of the tabloid-buying public who are alienated by a celebrity-obsessed news agenda.

Nick Thompson, a former newspaper circulation executive with News International and the Daily Mirror, is behind the proposed launch. Previously, he has been involved in the launch of Sport First and Sunday Business.

He said: “In terms of operational plans we are well advanced – but in terms of fundraising it is still in its early stages.

“The core of it is the fact that a large segment of the population is left out by the tabloid preoccupation with sleaze and celebrities. The Daily Mirror identified it in its research two years ago.”

Thompson said Life on Sunday would cover “genuine news happening in England and around the world” and said it would aim to be similar to the more serious Daily Mirror of the Forties and Fifties.

The paper would be based in the north of England for commercial reasons and to challenge the London-centric “bias” of existing newspapers.

Charles Gardner, an executive at regional newspaper group Johnston Press, has also been linked to the launch and journalism trainer Cleland Thom advised on the project.

Thompson said the aim was to to launch next autumn and achieve weekly sales of 250,000 in the first year. A dummy version of Life on Sunday has been used for the purposes of market research.

Thompson said: “The findings were there is a significant niche market looking for something a bit more reactive in reporting news rather than being proactive and setting the news agenda.

“There’s a level of celebrity fatigue in sections of the market — obviously the News of the World is selling four million and The Mail on Sunday two million – but segments of their markets are feeling ‘that doesn’t do that much for me’ and they want something more family orientated.”

RECENT TABLOID FAILURES

1996: Mohamed Al Fayed unveils Life on Sunday. The mid-market tabloid was intended to target The Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express readership with investigative-style celebrity news as well as good arts, sport and business coverage.

Despite producing a 272-page dummy, the title never got off the ground as Al Fayed concentrated on his attempt to revive Punch.

1987: a group of left-leaning journalists, including John Pilger, set up News on Sunday, intended to be a radical popular newspaper. It coincided with the peak of Thatcherism and research suggested the paper could have a potential readership of three million. But it was reportedly riven by internal politics and only lasted six weeks.

1988: The Post, which was launched by Eddy Shah from his Warrington base, was a popular tabloid which aimed to do without sleaze. It folded after 33 issues.

By Dominic Ponsford

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