Rupert Howell (left), a founder of the HHCL agency, boss of McCann in London and former client sales supremo at ITV, is set to be the CEO of the People tabloid newspaper if Journalist Sue Douglas’s consortium succeeds in raising the £10m required to buy it from Trinity Mirror.
Howell has been winding down his multifarious commitments in the expectation that a deal will go through. Trinity Mirror, now headed by former HMV boss Simon Fox, may keep a stake in the paper. The ambitious plan, essentially to replace the defunct News of the World in the nation’s affections (if such they are) would obviously benefit from a friendly older brother to help with printing and distribution costs for a standalone Sunday newspaper.
Douglas, a former editor of the Sunday Express, will be editor of the paper.
Douglas and Howell apparently think that the closure of the News of the World at the height of the phone hacking scandal has left a potentially profitable hole in the market. It has certainly left a lot of former NoW staff looking for a job.
But it won’t have escaped their attention that Rupert Murdoch’s News international has launched a Sunday version of the Sun and Murdoch is not known for his relaxed attitude to competition. The People, a paper which has rarely set the pulses racing, currently sells about 400,000 copies. The NoW sold around two million and not all these sales have migrated to the Sun on Sunday.
It’s a brave, possibly foolhardy move by Douglas and Howell to invest in such a property at a time when other publishers, including News International with both the Sun and a possible combination of The Times and Sunday Times are pursuing seven-day publishing.