Speaking to Media Week three days after the second edition of the UK’s newest national newspaper appeared on the newsstands, the 31-year-old Russian chairman behind the London Evening Standard and the Independent newspapers was notably underwhelmed.
He said: "I thought The Sun on Sunday was quite flat and not particularly exciting. Just pages and pages of talent show judges."
Commenting on the Sunday Sun's mix of interviews with TV stars, 39 pages of football coverage and a column by former glamour model Katie Price, he said "It's saying something if that's the best it has to offer".
Asked whether he thought Murdoch’s News International could sustain the 2.6 million copies it is believed to have sold in its second outing, Lebedev was not convinced, but noted one thing it had going for it was "the competition is not all that [good]…. That’s not saying much."
He added: "Where do they [dissatisfied tabloid readers] go? Maybe they just stop reading Sunday papers, and there is a general decline in Sunday papers. The Saturday is becoming much more the new Sunday - you can get much more information now on a Saturday."
Asked whether he would ever consider entering the mass market end of the newspaper business through launch or acquisition, Lebedev said "only with the Sunday Sport", before laughing.
Launch of campaigning liberal website 'Independent Voices'
Speaking earlier at the FT Digital Media Conference 2012, Lebedev had unveiled plans "in the next few weeks" to launch a new campaigning website, called Independent Voices, designed to be the "home of liberal fundamentalism".
Pressed by Media Week for more details, Lebedev revealed the site hopes to be funded by third party advertising and commercial sponsorships, and will consist of a dedicated editorial team of "six or seven journalists".
He added: "But we will be tapping into all our columnists and communicators from all [group] publications. We will be using all our contacts and contributors, not just the writers but across a wide range."
Earlier, Lebedev had appeared on a panel next to AOL Huffington Post’s UK managing director Noel Penzer. It is widely accepted the US imported political news site has not made the splash it had hoped since launching in the UK last summer.
In a move that many will interpret as a further challenge to Huffington Post's space, Lebedev said: "There is a need in the UK for a campaigning and debating website that can galvanise people, that can express really, really strong liberal opinion.
"The most important aspect is we will be providing people who come to our site the opportunity to have a voice."
He said Independent Voices will be focused on the UK "for now", but will "definitely have an international focus".
Further expansion for the Evening Standard?
The billionaire newspaper proprietor went on to hint at possible growth plans for London’s Evening Standard.
Having spent much of his formative years in London as a student at the London School of Economics, Lebedev believes the UK’s capital to be the "centre of the world".
Since acquiring the London paper two years ago (March 2010), Lebedev said he was "proud" at the way his journalists and editors had "taken the Evening Standard off its sick bed".
He said: "We were told that we were absolutely insane to buy the Evening Standard, as we were the Independent [a year earlier], but I thought in London, if you can’t have a successful newspaper, and that spreading to online, then where else in the world can you have one?"
Since assuming control of the Standard, Lebedev has removed its 50p cover price and more than doubled its distribution (699,368), and achieved a daily readership of more than 1.7 million. He said the move had "completely changed its fortunes", claiming "we’ve gone from losing tens of millions to reducing its losses considerably".
There is speculation that the Russian’s next move to maximise his advertising-led strategy could be to increase distribution by another 100,000 or more outside of London, to cover more of the home counties and beyond. Lebedev said: "It’s not in the immediate plan, but it’s very possible. It all depends on the business model."
Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter: @DurraniMix