Asian Xpress launches as rival to Eastern Eye

A new Asian weekly newspaper launches next week, published by the founder and editor of Eastern Eye, the paper that will now present his biggest competition.

Sarwar Ahmed is claiming that Asian Xpress will give "a more British Asian perspective on news" than his rival, which he jointly founded 12 years ago.

Ahmed claims that the Asian community in this country is demanding a paper that reflects their opinion on what is going on in the UK.

"Take the Keith Vaz issue. We are bombarded by right-wing views and there is no one giving an Asian view," said Ahmed. "Eastern Eye has sat on the fence on the Vaz issue. They have neither backed nor attacked him – The Mirror has backed him more than Eastern Eye. As a community we need to be more confident and believe in ourselves more."

Asian Xpress launches with a team of 12 journalists, many of whom have worked on Eastern Eye.

The day-to-day operations of the newspaper are being run at present by managing editor Sanjay Gohil with the appointment of a new editor said to be imminent.

It has been in the planning only since February but is a £1m venture, according to Ahmed.

Asian Xpress will sell at 50p compared to 70p for Eastern Eye.

There will be an initial print run of 30,000 which Ahmed expects to settle down to a steady sale of some 15,000 copies.

Ahmed expects the first issue of the paper to sell out due to the inclusion of an Asian Rich List produced by Philip Beresford.

That is the first stroke he has pulled over his former newspaper. Beresford, who compiles the hugely popular Sunday Times Rich List, had previously produced an Asian Rich List for Eastern Eye but confirmed that he and the list would be following Ahmed to Asian Xpress.

"I have gone with Sarwar Ahmed to Asian Xpress. My loyalty is to him not Eastern Eye," said Beresford.

Eastern Eye tried to stop the list with an injunction but failed, said Ahmed. Instead the Eye will present its own Asian rich list next week.

Gary Gurmeet, chairman of the Ethnic Media Group which owns Eastern Eye, said that the Eye’s list would be presented at a Natural History Museum dinner with Michael Portillo as guest of honour. Keith Vaz has also been invited.

Gurmeet remains confident that Eastern Eye will see off any challenge from its new rival. He is responding by bringing out a 32-page colour magazine in the week of Asian Xpress’s launch.

"We have a strong established readership and don’t see the Asian Xpress as a threat," said Gurmeet.

by Paul Donovan

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