Press Watch

Soon-to-be-launched Sunday Business will attract readers, but will there be enough for it to survive?

In a world of declining newspaper circulations, where the biggest development has been the “weekend package” – with the emphasis on leisure, and comprising a variety of targeted sections and special supplements offering a wealth of colour opportunities – can a newspaper solely devoted to the business world really survive?

Sunday Business would have us believe there is a substantial demand for more business than the current quality business sections provide, but is there enough to support a newspaper with nothing else to read in it except business?

The Financial Times clearly does not think so. A stable, high-quality title with loyal readers, the FT has never been tempted to try its hand at a seventh issue. Although it has considered this from time to time, it has never been convinced there is a sufficient market. If a long-established publication holds this view, who is Sunday Business to argue?

Sunday Business will probably be closest to the Saturday FT in terms of competition. Both are summaries of the week past and forecasts for the week to come. But there is one major difference which makes the Saturday FT successful, and may mean failure for Sunday Business – namely the substantial non-business element.

The weekend FT comprises three sections – national and business news, personal finance and, most significantly, a lifestyle section covering gardening, travel, arts, fashion, motoring etc.

The latter allows it to pick up a wider readership than normal and contributes to its seven per cent circulation advantage over the Monday to Friday editions.

Sunday Business is totally specialised, with no lifestyle editorial and no intention of covering something as mainstream as travel or the arts.

Its unique stance could be its downfall. Certainly there will be heavy competition for both ad revenue and potential scoops from the other quality Sundays. The fact that Sunday Business will be printed earlier than most other qualities will exclude it from covering late stories.

Sunday Business believes its circulation will come from readers buying it in addition to their normal paper. With no non-business editorial to appeal to the whole family, Sunday Business seems unlikely to be a solus purchase and, given the trend towards fewer Sunday papers bought per household, it seems equally unrealistic to think it will be an additional purchase.

Undoubtedly there will be a readership for this title. That is not the issue. The question is will it be large enough and loyal enough to support the funding of a weekly newspaper.

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