Sunday Paper Price War Looms as Desmond Eyes Rivals’ Readers

26 August 2002

As expected [WAMN: 15-Aug-02], British media baron Richard Desmond plans to shake up the Sabbath tabloid market by launching his new paper, the Sunday Star, at half the price of its major rivals.

The new title, to be rolled out next month, is expected to cost 35p ($0.53; €0.55), compared with the 65p cover price of its main rivals, Murdoch-owned market leader the News of the World and Trinity Mirror duo the Sunday Mirror and The People. Desmond hopes to win over the 60% of Daily Star readers who currently buy the News of the World on Sundays.

Media observers expect the low price – which reflects cheap production costs and, some fear, the use of Daily Star journalists to fill Sunday pages – to prompt action from the new paper’s competitors.

However, a price war is already raging in the daily market and is costing News International – publisher of the News of the World and weekday leader The Sun – in the region of £7 million a month.

“With News International price-cutting on the Sun, it remains to be seen whether they would want to price-cut on the News of the World [and] whether they will react straight away or wait and see what happens,” declared Tim Kirkman, Carat’s head of press.

Moreover, Trinity Mirror may hesitate before becoming embroiled in another pricing battle, having started and prematurely pulled out of the struggle in the daily market.

Nevertheless, according to Kirkman, one thing is sure: “Everybody’s going to lose a lot of money.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff