Rupert Murdoch Hopes For 2m Sales For Sun On Sunday Launch

Rupert Murdoch has declared he would be "very happy" if sales of the Sun on Sunday exceed two million copies.

The newspaper tycoon took to Twitter to express his hope that the latest News International title - which goes to print for the first time tomorrow - will enjoy similar success to the defunct News of the World.

The penultimate issue of the title, which ceased publication at the height of the phone hacking scandal in July last year, sold around 2.7 million copies.

Sales increased to 3.8 million for the final edition of the newspaper, which included a 48-page pull-out featuring front pages from the paper's archives, including some of the most famous scoops dating back over its 168 years.

Murdoch tweeted: "The Sun: great speculation, sweeps, etc on Sunday's sale. I will be very happy at anything substantially over two million!"

He flew to the UK last week and is expected to stay for the launch of his new publication.

The Sun on Sunday will go to print for the first time tomorrow night.

Speculation about a Sunday edition of the biggest selling UK daily newspaper has been mounting since the closure of the News of the World after the hacking scandal.

The announcement finally came at the weekend amid concerns the Sun would suffer the same fate as its sister paper after the arrests of 10 current and former employees since November over alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

There has since been much conjecture about the editorial style of the paper, with many media commentators suggesting it will be more family-friendly and less salacious than the News of the World.

It already tipped the balance in the lucrative Sunday market after announcing it would be sold for just 50p.

The cost of the title is expected to have sparked a tabloid price war and it is understood that rival titles - the Sunday Mirror, the People and the Sunday Star - are to slash their price tags.

Australian Mr Murdoch announced the birth of the title just six days before it hits news stands but that did not deter advertisers. Yesterday, the 80-year-old boasted that the Sun on Sunday had completely sold out of advertising space.

Publicist Max Clifford said: "I think it has got a very good chance to be a big success.

"The Sun is the biggest paper in the country and News of the World was by far the most successful Sunday paper. You put that together and they have a great chance to go straight to number one and potentially stay there.

"The News of the World was a national institution, an awful lot of people have missed it.

"The fact is, the Sun is by far the most successful newspaper in Britain so there is an awful lot of people potentially who are going to buy this."

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said a new Sunday title would be welcomed by both journalists and the public alike. Readers will have a wider variety of choice on news stands and there could be more jobs for journalists.

"It seems that up to one million people may not have moved elsewhere after the demise of the News of the World," he said.

"I expect that many of those will at least try the Sun on Sunday."