Surrey papers ponder free Sunday launch

Surrey on Sunday: gap in the market?

Tindle Newspapers of Farnham and the Guildford-based Surrey Advertiser Group may launch a Sunday newspaper for Surrey.

A third newspaper company has been invited to join them.

A new company has been registered in the name of Surrey on Sunday, but the venture has not yet had the go-ahead. A dummy issue of a free broadsheet, with two 14-page sections, a main news and a property section, was produced last week on the Farnham Herald’s 14-unit Goss Urbanite press.

The two parties are already linked with others in a successful weekly project, Free Ad Mart, and have the experience and local facilities for a Sunday launch. The two groups’ existing weeklies cover a large part of rural Surrey, with a combined circulation approaching 300,000 copies.

"We have the firepower to get it off the ground," said Sir Ray Tindle. "We are going ahead as though we are going to launch because we want to get everything right and because we want to be as far ahead with our arrangements as possible if we decide to go ahead with the launch."

The biggest problem so far, he has discovered, is the collection and printing on Saturday evening of local football and cricket match results. "The national Sunday newspapers do it extraordinarily well, but we do not have the staff and the facilities. It’s expensive to bring them in and not everyone wants to give up their Saturday evening after working a five-day week.

"It’s a big factor in the sale of Sunday newspapers, but if the newspaper is free perhaps it doesn’t matter. But I would prefer to have the results in."

His newspaper group first published a Surrey Sunday paper for a brief time in 1985, called the Sunday Herald. Sir Ray, who has been interested in the Sunday market for a long time, said some of the files on the original paper had been dusted off for a second look.

"Is the local newspaper market missing out by not coming out on a Sunday?" he asked, listing the Sundays that already exist in the regions. "Look at all the gaps. Maybe there is a market in the local sphere for Sunday newspapers. But I still don’t know, up to the time of this conversation, whether it can succeed."

Other publishers, such as Frank Branston of Local Sunday Newspapers and Sunday Life in Belfast, had found a formula for success, he acknowledged.

Sir Ray said he was delighted to be working again with the Surrey Advertiser Group, owned by Guardian Media Group.

 

By Jean Morgan

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