Second TimeAround p. 17

By: GEORGE GARNEAU THE NEW YORK Post is launching an unusual Sunday newspaper ? by cloning its daily editions.
The perennially money-losing tabloid, whose reported losses of nearly $20 million last year are subsidized by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is risking further red ink in the hopes of reversing its ill-fated financial fortune.
The Post, with 414,000 daily circulation, 330,000 Saturday, was the only New York City daily ? and among the biggest in the nation ? without a Sunday edition until the April 14 launch.
"We think we've found an opportunity in the marketplace," publisher Martin Singerman said. "The Sunday New York Post offers lots to read and less clutter, at the same 50-cent price as the daily newspaper."
The formula: no color, no comics, no magazine, no TV book, no sections, no ad inserts ? and no premium price. In short, pretty much the same Post sold Monday through Saturday, with a few editorial tweaks.
With "quite a few" more journalists on staff, the Post will have a bigger news hole on Sunday ? including more sports, business and entertainment news ? plus selections from the Zagat's restaurant listings.
Analyst John Morton called the Sunday edition an expensive venture, but required for the Post to become anything more than an expensive Murdoch hobby. The reason being: Metro papers harvest 40% to 50% of advertising and profit on Sunday, on average, and Sunday circulation and advertising have outstripped daily for years.
"The graveyard is full of newspapers that didn't have Sunday editions," Morton said. "Sundays are a big part of the business that the Post doesn't share in."
While not a sinecure for the Post's intractable losses, a Sunday paper "is at least an investment in confidence in the Post's future, whereas not doing it is going to mean it's an underwritten newspaper as long as Mr. Murdoch wants to do it," Morton said.
On the downside, starting a Sunday paper could boost losses 10% to 15%, and the few advertisers the Post has could opt to spread their budgets over seven days instead of six, Morton said.
It is the latest maneuver in the city's century-old newspaper wars, which last year forced Newsday, the tabloid based in the Long Island suburbs, to close its seven-day New York Newsday after absorbing years of losses and retreat to Queens, where it circulates a local edition.
So the Sunday Post's only tabloid competition is the Daily News, which sells 739,000 Sunday papers for $1.25 each and carries all the "clutter" the Post eschews.
The Post's last attempt at a Sunday paper ? in 1989 under former publisher Peter Kalikow, who bought the paper from Murdoch in a sale forced by antitrust regulations ? failed after eight months.
The difference, said Singerman, is that Kalikow tried to emulate the News, unlike the hybrid created this time around.
Singerman was planning on a press run of 500,000 papers to be sold at the usual outlets around the city. Virtually all the Post's circulation is sold by single copies.
The bare-bones concept is designed to appeal to Post readers who have to buy another paper on Sunday and to those who find Sunday sections and ad inserts "unnecessary and cumbersome," Singerman said, describing the Sunday Post as "somewhat different than what we've come to expect of a Sunday paper."
Singerman gave no names or numbers but said advertisers "are supporting it. We will have a very, very substantial advertising representation."
Singerman declined to divulge how much money was being invested or when management expects to turn a profit, except to say, "There's a big upside and very little downside."
The first Sunday edition contained lots of full-page ads, but that could be because the ad rates charged were based on a circulation of only 250,000. Sunday rates are expected to increase to the levels of the daily paper as circulation rises.
Citing a lack of precedent, Morton reserved judgment on the strategy of marketing what is essentially a daily metro tabloid on Sunday, but suggested it was worth a try, saying:
"The Post, as presently configured, is highly unlikely ever to make money. With a Sunday edition, it might have a faint glimmer of hope."
In other developments, more than a year after he announced plans to build a production plant to replace the South Street pressroom, operating with 50-year-old letterpress equipment, Singerman said the search for a site was continuing, but gave no timetable. Editorial offices have moved to News Corp.'s U.S. base, on Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
?("We think we've found an opportunity in the marketplace." ) [Caption]
?(-Martin SIngerman, publisher, New York Post) [Photo & Caption]
?(The latest Sunday New York Post) [Photo & Caption]


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