Rupert Murdoch said he wanted his new Sun on Sunday tabloid to sell well over two million copies as the paper intended to replace the scandal-hit News of the World was about to roll off the presses.
The benchmark would make the new edition comfortably the most-read weekly newspaper in Britain, topping the 1.9 million circulation of The Mail on Sunday.
However, sales of 2.75 million are needed to match the daily edition of The Sun’s average circulation and the sort of sales figures achieved by the News of the World, the paper Murdoch shut in July as the phone hacking scandal engulfed the Sunday tabloid.
“Great speculation, sweeps, etc on Sunday’s sale. I will be very happy at anything substantially over two million!” media baron Murdoch wrote on his Twitter account.
“New Sunday edition nearly ready. Fantastic achievement by great staff. Many thanks,” he added on the micro-blogging website.
Murdoch has also announced that the Sun on Sunday is “completely sold out for advertising” and said its 50 pence ($0.80, 0.60 euro cents) cover price was “great news for readers and the economy”.
The 80-year-old tycoon’s move is likely to spark a price war with rival “red-top” newspapers like the Sunday Mirror, The People and the Daily Star Sunday, which have all gained readers since the News of the World’s closure.
News of the World’s June 2011 average sales were 2.67 million and while half of those readers have drifted off to other papers, 1.3 million have simply vanished from the market altogether, industry figures show.
“The waiting is nearly over. One more day brings the dawn of a brilliant new era for The Sun,” the paper said Saturday.
The Sunday edition “will be packed with all the news, features and sport you have come to love — plus a stunning line-up of new columnists”.
They include Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, second-highest cleric in the Church of England, and former glamour model Jordan.
Military chiefs have ordered thousands of copies to be flown to British troops serving in Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.
“In Britain and the world’s hot spots, every day is now a Sun day,” the paper said.