The Sun on Sunday to launch in six days

The Sun on Sunday is to hit newsstands next weekend, with today's Sun trumpeting its arrival as a "momentous new dawn".

The Sun: today's front page
The Sun: today's front page

Rupert Murdoch has lived up to his coming "very soon" announcement, made to staff on Friday, by committing the company to launching the Sun on Sunday next weekend, 26 February, with the media magnate overseeing the launch of the paper himself having already said he would remain in the UK for a number of weeks.

Murdoch has sidelined the numerous investigations and arrests of senior staff at the tabloid to launch the first national Sunday newspaper in decades.

In an email to staff last night News International chief executive Tom Mockridge said the company was determined to deal with past wrong-doing and was fundamentally changing how it operated.

Mockridge said: "The commitment of News Corporation to invest in a new edition is the strongest possible message of support we could wish for. We will have to act quickly over the coming days."

"This is our moment. I am sure every one of us will seize the opportunity to pull together and deliver a great new dawn for the Sun this Sunday."

The company announced the coming of the Sun on Sunday on its website last night and splashed on the arrival of the new paper in today's edition of The Sun.

Reports suggest the new paper will be bundled with Fabulous magazine, the former News of the World supplement that was shifted to The Sun's Saturday edition following the closure of the News of the World last July, though a News International spokeswoman declined to comment on whether this was the case.

No details have been announced regarding a cover price for the paper, though Murdoch has a past record of keen pricing to steal a march on rivals.

The News of the World was selling about 2.6 million papers when it closed and only about half of those have continued to buy other Sunday papers, The Sunday Mirror being the big winner alongside Richard Desmond's Daily Star Sunday.

The Sunday Mirror's latest ABC figure, for Jan 2012, shows it added almost 700k copy sales year on year to reach 1.7 million, with the Daily Star Sunday more than doubling year-on-year to reach 645k. The People has also added about 270k to reach 770k.

Murdoch's rivals will now be looking closely at how they hang on to those numbers in the face of serious competition, while News International will be plotting how it can not only win back readers from rivals, but bring the million plus buyers who have deserted the Sunday tabloids back into the market.

News International would not comment this morning on marketing plans for the new paper, but its recent decision to hand its £28m advertising account to WPP now takes on greater significance.

A number of editoral staff from the former News of the World are known to have been recruited to work on the new paper, but details over how it will be sold are not yet known.

News International restructured its entire business operation in September last year, with Dominic Carter now leading the commercial teams reporting to the head of NI Commercial Paul Hayes.

It would be hard to see any reason for further structural changes to be made to allow the company to sell a seven day Sun, though as part of the ongoing fall-out from the restructure, which has seen a number of executives come and go, new hires cannot be ruled out.

Speaking late on Friday, prior to the announcement that the new paper would launch as soon as next week, media agency executives had mixed responses to the potential arrival of the Sun on Sunday.

While consumers would welcome the arrival of the new paper, the agency bosses said, the closure of the News of the World had forced advertisers to find new ways to reach the Sunday market and the News International team will have to work hard to win those clients back.

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