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Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Edition of the Sun Makes its Debut

Rupert Murdoch launches Sunday edition of The Sun. It has softer tone than shuttered News of the World and may signal a shift in his battle to survive the phone hacking and bribery scandal

Rupert Murdoch's Sunday edition of The Sun has hit the news racks in London.

The News Corp. chief, who flew in to personally oversee the launch, said prior to its debut that he aims to sell two million copies and that "all available advertising has been sold."

Read more: Parliament May Call Rupert Murdoch to Testify About Phone Hacking

It remains to be seen how U.K. readers will respond to what appears to their new Sunday read. Murodoch himself took to Twitter to trumpet the first sales figures: "Reports early, but new Sun edition sold 3m!"

The real import. however, could be the signal Murdoch is sending with the launch, which follows the closure of the Murdoch-owned U.K. tabloid The News of the World in the wake of a phone hacking and bribery scandal.

Many observers believe that by refusing to shutter the Sun –and with such high-profile involvement in its expansion– Murdoch is saying he intends to fight back, not just on newspaper front, but in terms of the whole hacking investigation.

Whether that's a good idea remains to be seen. Some  observers suggest Murdoch should cut his losses on the newspaper industry and focus on other more lucrative sectors of the News Corp empire, including Fox Broadcasting, BSkyB in the U.K. and the Fox movie studio. Others disagree.

“While other newspaper proprietors are in retreat all over the world, and while Murdoch himself faces the greatest-ever threat to his empire as a result of the phone hacking scandal, he charges the barricades, confounding his enemies,” wrote William Shawcross, a British author and longtime Murdoch friend, in a column this week in The Spectator.

The tone of the new Sunday edition seems softer, less gossipy and confrontational than than the News of the World, which some observers saw as attempt to distance the Sun from it's now shuttered sister paper.

Not every one was happy.

 "I like sleaze on Sunday so I feel slightly robbed," former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie told the BBC. "This is not trying to be the News of the World with the Sun logo on it."

Media commentator Roy Greenslade described the new paper as "bland" and said: "Sunday papers are going out of fashion anyway, both tabloid and broadsheets, and it will be interesting to see if he (Rupert Murdoch) can turn that around."

He thought the Sun's softer focus was no accident.

"There is a clear intention to draw a line under the News of the World and that type of intrusive journalism."

The front page features U.K. TV judge and actress Amanda Holden recalling of how she nearly died giving birth to her daughter.

Neville Thurlbeck, the former News of the World reporter who has denied hacking phones while at the paper, tweeted: "Sun ushers in new tabloid era. It's not NOtW but vital post Leveson (inquiry) product. The king is dead. Long live the queen."

Getting directly involved in the Sunday Sun's launch  Murdoch may have provided a bit of a respite for Murdoch, amid the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics and police investigation into phone hacking.

The probe resumes on Monday, after a two week hiatus, with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who is leading Scotland Yard's new inquiry into phone hacking, email hacking and corrupt payments to the police, appearing for a second time.

The police investigation has led to 30 arrests so far, among them 10 current and former senior staff at the Sun.

An editorial in the first edition of the new Sunday newspaper reads: "We believe those individuals are innocent until proven guilty.

"It has been a sobering experience for our entire industry."

The editorial adds that the paper had been a "tremendous force for good".

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