Sunday Mirror gains on Murdoch tabloid demise

The number of Britons reading The Sunday Mirror tabloid rose 50 percent last week as those who once bought...

Copies of Britain's News of the World newspaper are pictured in London on July 7, 2011. Picture: AFP

The number of Britons reading The Sunday Mirror tabloid rose 50 percent last week as those who once bought News Corp's News of the World, closed 10 days ago in the grip of a phone-hacking scandal, looked elsewhere.

A survey of over 1,000 people conducted by Kantar Media showed that readership for the Mail Sunday was also up 38 percent on the previous week, following an aggressive period of marketing among rival newspaper groups.

The News of the World, previously the most popular Sunday tabloid due to its front-page splashes on sex and celebrity, published its last edition on July 10 after its parent company shut the title due to escalating charges that it illegally hacked into people's mobile voicemail messages for stories and bribed policemen for information.

There has been speculation that News Corp could eventually extend its daily Sun newspaper to seven days, and the survey showed that almost 50 percent of respondents said they would consider buying the Sun Sunday, if it were available.

Some 71 percent said they would consider a similar tabloid from the publishers of the Daily Mail if they were to release one.

A source close to the situation has told Reuters that the Daily Mail & General Trust is planning a new mass-market Sunday tabloid.

"The Sunday newspaper reading habit is deeply engrained with the British public and shows little sign of being diminished by the closure of the News of the World," Liz McMahon at Kantar Media said.

"We see opportunities for publishers to develop successful new Sunday titles, but they will require careful positioning and clear differentiation to avoid the long-term cannibalisation of existing Sunday newspaper audiences."