The decision to sell the front and back-pages of The Sun to an advertiser for the first time on Friday is the latest sign that News Corp is suddenly taking a much more hard-nosed approach to its troublesome UK titles.
It follows a price rise for The Sun from 30p to 40p last month. According to Media Guardian, BSkyB (39 per cent owned by News Corp) paid £600,000 for the chance to wipe news off the front page of The Sun for the first time in its 42-year history.
Last month Murdoch revealed that his newspaper assets are to be split off from the entertainment side of the business. He won’t be chief executive of the newspaper side and he has said that problems with the “English” mean he won’t be looking to invest his billions on this side of the Atlantic in future.
He also revealed that loss-making titles would no longer be tolerated.
It all points toward more of a focus on short-term profitability (The Sun has always made money anyway, but The Times has now been informed that it has to make a profit for the first time and won’t be subsidised any more).
The sudden need to ramp up profitability of The Sun, added to the ongoing ruthless Management and Standards Committee purge of any historical possible journalistic wrongdoing, suggest to me that it and other News International titles are being fattened up for sale. A clean bill of health to ensure no repeat of the hacking scandal which killed the News of the World would be essential to securing a decent sale price for The Sun.