The News of the World closed on 10 July, printing some 5 million copies with a head line “Thank You and Goodbye”.
The closing sees the loss of £ 660,000 advertising income each weekend and all eyes are focussed on The Sun to fill this gap. Newsagents will want a replacement as a loss of 2.6 million copies per week will hit their income badly. The immediate speculation is that News International will replace The News of the World with a Sunday edition of the Sun. “Sun on Sunday” was registered last week, as well as the domain names thesunonsunday.com, thesunonsunday.co.uk and also sunonsunday.co.uk. Both registrations are reported to be linked to News International.
In the short term, competing tabloids are likely to gain some of this income and gain additional readership, although they may well already carry the advertisers so the gain will not be 100 per cent incremental income.
Four Media feels the more worrying issue is if those advertisers who pulled their advertising seek alternative media for their advertising thus damaging the newspaper sector as a whole. Replacing seven million impacts is not easy and the print medium is suffering as a whole. Any move away from this sector will cause yet more distress to the newspaper market.
Murdoch’s News International has been in the processes of trying to acquire the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB – a bid of some £8 billion – in order to gain total control of the company. This is likely now to be deferred until the autumn.
Shares in BSkyB fell on Friday by 4 per cent to 779p, taking the decline to 6 per cent across the week wiping £700 million off the value of the business as investors fear that the shock closure of the News of the World may not be enough to ensure Murdoch wins his battle to take full control of the satellite broadcaster.
Shares in rival publications such as the Sunday Mirror and the Mail on Sunday jumped as analysts predicted they would gain the readers and advertisers left behind in the demise of the News of the World. Shares in the Trinity Mirror (owners of the Sunday Mirror) soared by more than 10 per cent.
This is a story far from over and ironically provides journalists with a fund of ‘serious’ editorial in what is usually regarded as the ‘silly season’ lacking in strong stories.