News International (NI) confirmed last night that the Sun on Sunday will be launched next weekend. The new title will replace the News of the World, the newspaper closed down last July following revelations of phone hacking malpractice.
NI chief executive Tom Mockridge sent an internal memo to staff confirming the decision, and later the Sun's website carried the news. Mockridge's email also informed staff that Rupert Murdoch would now be extending his stay in London in order to supervise the launch. Murdoch is already in the UK following his arrival to reassure staff after the arrest of five journalists at the Sun last week.
In his email to staff, Mockridge said:
As you know, News Corporation has made clear its determination to sort out what has gone wrong in the past and we are fundamentally changing how we operate as a business
The commitment of News Corporation to invest in a new edition is the strongest possible message of support we could wish for.
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.
Who will edit the newspaper remains unclear but whoever assumes that role is expected to report into the current editor of the Sun, Dominic Mohan.
Reports suggest that the former political editor at the News of the World, David Wooding, will assume the same role at the Sun on Sunday, with various members of the staff at the Sun also taking up roles at the new Sunday edition.
Mohan claimed the launch provided a "truly historic moment".
The Sun's future can now be reshaped as a unique seven-day proposition in both print and digital
Our readers' reaction to the announcement of a seventh-day Sun has been huge and we won't let them down.
Fabulous magazine, which was formerly part of the News of the World's offering but subsequently moved to the Saturday edition of the Sun, may now form part of the Sun on Sunday package.
The question remains which companies will choose to advertise in the Sun on Sunday next weekend given the issues surrounding its predecessor and NI.
The launch of the Sun on Sunday will be watched particularly closely by those rivals who benefited from the closure of the News of the World. The Daily Star on Sunday saw its figures almost double, according to data released in January. All eyes will now turn to the circulation figures of the Sun on Sunday and the impact they will have on other Sunday newspapers.