SYDNEY: Multimillionaire media magnate Kerry Stokes (pictured) is reportedly mulling the launch of a rival title if he fails in attempts make his presence felt at publisher Western Australian Newspapers.

This is the latest manoeuvre by the chairman of Seven Network to try to and muscle his way onto the WAN board. Seven owns 20% of the publisher of Perth tabloid, The West Australian.

Stokes' ascension to the board, and that of henchman and Seven director Peter Gammell, is fiercely opposed by WAN chairman Peter Mansell, who believes it would not serve the interests of the publishing firm.

In retaliation, Stokes has launched an a stinging attack on the West Australian's flagging readership, profitability, editorial standards, distribution problems and printing facilities.

Despite rumours, Stokes has sought to dampen speculation he will start up a rival title, indicating that he would prefer to improve The West Australian.

He declares: "If the readership of a monopoly newspaper is declining then of course there will be speculation about the prospect of introducing a competitor.

"My position is to stop that speculation by improving the content and therefore the circulation of The West Australian.

"The first step would be to return the focus of the newspaper to the people that matter the most - and that is the customer."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff