Desmond in talks with PA over launch of Sunday Star

Desmond:after buying Daily Star

Express Newspapers has invited the Press Association in for talks about supplying its planned new Sunday Star, say sources.

Express owner Richard Desmond, buoyed by the success of the Daily Star, wants a companion paper, likely to launch in late May or early June in time for the World Cup.

Decisions on whether it will be a separate newspaper with an identity and staff of its own have not been made. Indeed, argument is said to be so fierce between Desmond and Star executives on what it will require in investment in editorial staff that progress is currently blocked.

If Desmond gets his way it is odds on that it will be a seven-day venture with the daily’s editor, Peter Hill, overseeing the whole operation. Hill would have the help of a senior executive dedicated to the Sunday.

But the Daily Star’s staff is meagre and Desmond will need to recruit journalists, especially an army of casual sub-editors for Saturday nights – they are already in short supply.

He could farm out some of the editorial processes. But PA, the most likely customer, has taken on production for The Business and Hello! magazine’s Seven Days section in London and for Sport First at Howden, Yorkshire. It is already bursting at the seams at its London headquarters.

Neither Desmond, Hill nor anyone else at Express Newspapers was talking officially about the new paper this week. It would be the first general-interest tabloid to launch nationally since Today in 1986.

Desmond is said to have given up on his attempts to buy the Sunday People, which he reckons is priced too high. He is particularly pleased with the Daily Star’s sales figures and the way it has targeted youthful readers.  Sport and entertainment are likely to figure largely in the content of the Sunday Star.

He is also thought to have taken on board the way the Daily Star was born 22 years ago – to soak up the extra printing capacity of the Expresses – and to believe a Sunday Star, using spare press time on Saturday nights, could be produced for a relatively reasonable outlay. The hefty money would go into promoting his new vehicle.


By Jean Morgan

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