The Sunday Times is a national Sunday broadsheet newspaper in the United Kingdom. The Sunday Times is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International, which is in turn owned by News Corporation. Times Newspapers also owns The Times, but the two papers were founded independently and came under common ownership only in 1966. Rupert Murdoch's News International acquired the papers in 1981. Each year The Sunday Times publishes a Rich List which boosts sales.
While its sister paper, The Times, holds a substantially smaller circulation than the largest-circulation British quality daily, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times occupies a dominant position in the quality Sunday market; its circulation of just under 1m equals that of the The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer and The Independent on Sunday combined. It maintains the larger broadsheet format and has said that it will continue to do so.
Its domestic newsstand price increase to 2 from 1.80 in September 2006, the second price rise in two years, has started to cause a slight month-on-month and year-on-year decline in its readership. This has been following a general decline in readership of all Sunday newspapers. To combat this rivals such as The Independent on Sunday relaunched in June 2007 with a more concise approach to its content and sections, while The Observer has relaunched in a Berliner format with colour throughout all sections.
In July 2011, The Sunday Times was implicated in the phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World, another Murdoch newspaper. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown accused the Sunday Times of employing "known criminals" to impersonate him and obtain his private financial records. Brown's bank reported that an investigator employed by the Sunday Times repeatedly impersonated Brown to gain access to his bank account records.
The paper was launched as The New Observer in 1821; Observer newspaper had been founded in 1791 although the two newspapers were unrelated. It was renamed The Independent Observer and then in 1822 The Sunday Times, again without any relationship between itself and The Times.
Rachel Beer acquired the paper in 1893, and Alfred Harmsworth acquired it in 1908. By 1959 it was part of the Kemsley group of newspapers, which was acquired in that year by Lord Thomson. In 1966 Thomson also acquired The Times and formed Times Newspapers Ltd to publish the two papers.
Rupert Murdoch's News International acquired the Times titles in 1981, but the Conservative government never referred the purchase to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, mainly because the previous owners, The Thomson Corporation, had threatened to close the papers down if they were not taken over by someone else within an allotted time, and it was feared that any legal delay to Murdoch's takeover might lead to the two titles' demise. This was despite the fact that the takeover gave Murdoch the control of four national newspapers; The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World.
Almost a decade later News Corp would own the Fox Network. News International is the controlling shareholder of BSkyB and James Murdoch is CEO.
Control by News Corporation ended the editorial reign of Harold Evans, bringing to a close a period in the paper's history when it was a leading campaigning, investigative and liberal-leaning newspaper. Under Andrew Neil's editorship in the 1980s and early 1990s, The Sunday Times took a strongly Thatcherite and Wienerite slant, and became particularly strongly associated with the view that anti-commercialism among those who traditionally voted for the Conservative Party had actually worked alongside traditional socialism in undermining Britain's economic competitiveness. In this area it strongly opposed the traditional conservatism expounded by Peregrine Worsthorne at the rival Sunday Telegraph.
On 26 March 2010, The Sunday Times announced that it would start charging for content in its website from June 2010. Users would have to pay 1 for a day's access, and 2 for a week subscription. Sunday Times would be relaunching its website by May 2010. These new website sites would be available to registered customers for free for a trial period.
The daily payment would give readers access to The Times and Sunday Times websites, but the weekly subscription would include special digital services, such as an e-paper and new applications. Existing subscribers to the print version would have access to the online version.
It published the faked Hitler Diaries (1983), believing them to be genuine. Other notable stories include:
- The thalidomide scandal in the 1960s.
- The paper sponsored Francis Chichester's single-handed circumnavigation of the world under sail in 1966 1967, and the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968 1969, both of which were sensational events in Britain.
- Israeli Nuclear Weapons using information from Mordechai Vanunu, The Sunday Times in 1986 published information that said that Israel had manufactured more than 100 nuclear warheads.
- Uncaring Thatcher The Sunday Times ran a story claiming that Queen Elizabeth II was upset with the style of Margaret Thatcher's leadership. This was notable as the monarch generally maintains a strictly impartial role politically
- The "cash-for-questions" investigation under John Major's government.
- On 12 July 1987 The Sunday Times began serialisation of the book Spycatcher, the memoirs of an MI5 agent, which had been banned in Britain. The paper successfully challenged subsequent legal action by the British government, winning its case at the European Court of Human Rights in 1991.
- Over two years in the early 1990s, the Sunday Times published a series of articles rejecting the role of HIV in causing AIDS, calling the African AIDS epidemic a myth. In response, the scientific journal Nature described the paper's coverage of HIV/AIDS as "seriously mistaken, and probably disastrous." Nature argued that the newspaper had "so consistently misrepresented the role of HIV in the causation of AIDS that Nature plans to monitor its future treatment of the issue."
- In January 2010, the Sunday Times published an article alleging that a figure in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report was based on an "unsubstantiated claim". The story gained worldwide attention. However, a scientist quoted in the very same article later stated that the newspaper story was wrong and that quotes of him had been used in a misleading way. Following an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, the Sunday Times retracted the story and apologized.
The Sunday Times publishes The Sunday Times Rich List, an annual survey of the wealthiest people in Britain and Ireland, equivalent to the Forbes 400 list in the USA, and a series of league tables with reviews of private British companies, in particular the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. The paper also publishes an annual league table of British universities and a similar one for Irish universities. It also publishes the Sunday Times Bestseller List of best-selling books in Britain, and a list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For", focusing on UK companies.
During the 1990s the paper developed a separate version for the Republic of Ireland. A Dublin office was opened in 1993, run by Alan Ruddock and John Burns. Originally the Irish edition extended to little more than a small number of news stories, some columnists such as Eoghan Harris, and the inclusion of Irish cinema listings and schedules for RT One and RT Two in the Culture section of the paper; but by 2005, a separate printing plant, journalistic offices, and many Irish journalists, including Liam Fay, Richard Oakley, Mark Tighe and Colin Coyle who write solely for the Irish edition have led to most of the main news section as well as all other sections being editionalised for Ireland.
The Irish edition of The Sunday Times is not linked to The Irish Times newspaper, which is published Monday to Saturday in Dublin.
The Irish issue sells about 140,000 copies per week across the paper's entire circulation area, which includes a separate edition for Northern Ireland. The current Irish editor is Frank Fitzgibbon, a founder of the Sunday Business Post.
The paper also runs a Scottish edition. The majority of the articles are the same as the English edition, though the paper does run several stories from Scotland and its headline front page story is normally a Scottish story. The paper also gives Scottish TV schedules and cinema listings as well as having Scottish writers for its opinion section.
- 1821: Henry White
- 1822: Daniel Whittle Harvey
- 1824: Clarkson
- 1828: Thomas Gaspey
- 1835: Unknown
- 1854: William Carpenter
- 1855: Joseph Moses Levy
- 1856: E. T. Smith
- 1858: Edward Seale
- 1867: Edmund Scale
- 1874: Joseph Hatton
- 1881: Neville Bruce
- 1887: Phil Robinson
- 1890: Arthur William Beckett
- 1893: Rachel Beer
- 1901: Leonard Rees
- 1932: William W. Hadley
- 1950: Harry Hodson
- 1961: Denis Hamilton
- 1967: Harold Evans
- 1981: Frank Giles
- 1983: Andrew Neil
- 1995: John Witherow
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