Rupert Murdoch's Sunday baby is having some trouble.
The New York Times reported Monday that sales of the Sun on Sunday, the title Murdoch launched in February to fill the gap left by the shuttered News of the World, have stalled. Circulation has tumbled by nearly a million since the first issue, from 3.2 to 2.3 million. When it was shut down, the News of the World was selling 2.7 million copies every week.
Of course, that is still enough to make the paper the top seller on Sundays.
The Sun on Sunday was launched in a whirlwind of publicity in February, with Murdoch jetting into London to personally oversee the rollout. News International, his UK newspaper wing, had had no Sunday title since Murdoch abruptly closed the News of the World over the phone hacking crisis. The opening of the paper had also provided a crucial morale boost to editors and reporters at the Sun. They had been outraged at Murdoch's ongoing cooperation with police, which resulted in multiple arrests of Sun journalists.
Since then, though, the Sun on Sunday has been unable to match the heights scaled by the News of the World, suggesting that one brand is simply not as potent on the weekends as the other had been. Analysts told the Times that the so-called "News of the Screws" had been able to attract readers from a broad swath of backgrounds in a way that its replacement has found difficulty in replicating.
Meanwhile, the Leveson Inquiry continues to dig up dirt on the Murdoch empire; two former editors have been arrested and charged with crimes; and News International could face up to 500 phone hacking claims. Happy days these are not.