A full-scale newspaper war is set to erupt in the Home Counties after rival publishers each unveiled expansion plans on the same patch.
Regional publishing giant Newsquest has announced that the first edition of the Oxfordshire Star will hit the streets next Thursday, with the company aiming for a readership of 22,000.
Its managing director Howard Taylor today described Newsquest’s move as a “counter-offensive” aimed at halting the Guardian’s expansion.
Said Howard: “It is a compliment to see such a powerful organisation follow our lead and attempt to replicate our success in Oxfordshire.
“I hope that other independents can find the courage to challenge the might of the big players – we are in for a battle.”
Newsquest’s new free Star, which the company says has been launched as a result of feedback from advertisers and staff, will be available to pick up from sites across Oxfordshire
It will not have a dedicated website, but will be supported online by Newsquest’s existing portfolio of Oxfordshire sites.
Chris Moore, managing director of Newsquest Oxfordshire & Wiltshire, said: “We believe there is a good opportunity for us to extend and develop our print audience via the launch of a new free newspaper that complements our existing portfolio of paid for newspapers, magazines and digital platforms.
“The Oxfordshire Star will further strengthen our reach with the growing population in the county and provide an additional platform for local advertisers.”
Newsquest regional editor Gary Lawrence, who will have editorial responsibility for the new paper, said the Star would be a “bright, busy and colourful community newspaper”.
He added: “We are blessed with wonderful communities and a vibrant social scene and the Oxfordshire Star will reflect that.
“It will feature news, sport and leisure, as well as property, motors and jobs. I’m sure readers will enjoy the latest addition to our Oxfordshire portfolio.”