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1971: Britain's oldest tabloid closes

The Daily Sketch newspaper which was founded in 1909 has been published for the last time.

Enclosed in today's souvenir issue was a copy of its sister paper the Daily Mail to which owners Harmsworth Publications hope former Sketch readers will now switch.

However, production of the last copies of the Sketch was held up by an industrial dispute over manning of the printing presses.

At its peak the Daily Sketch achieved a circulation of 1.3 million copies a day but in recent years readership of the paper has been in decline.

The Sketch's fate was sealed two months ago when Harmsworth Publications announced plans to shut down the paper, although the exact date was a closely-guarded secret until recently.

The closure has resulted in more than 800 people being made redundant - they are among 1,700 being laid off by Associated Newspapers, Harmsworth's parent company.

But the former editor of the Sketch, David English, remains with the company. He was appointed editor of the Daily Mail after the Sketch's closure was announced.

Associated Newspapers is now pinning its hopes on the revamped Daily Mail capturing the Sketch's market.

Earlier this month the Mail was transformed from a broadsheet into a tabloid and has taken on many of the Sketch's features such as the Peanuts cartoon strip.

The new Mail's success is even more crucial for Harmworth's survival given that it also publishes the loss-making Evening News.

The Mail's main competitor for the Sketch's readers is widely regarded to be the Daily Express.

The Express' new editor, Ian McColl, is expected to take the paper further to the right and thus encroach on ground traditionally occupied by the Mail.

The latest developments are another twist in the on-going battle of the tabloids which began when Rupert Murdoch took over the Sun two years ago.

In Context
Under David English the new Daily Mail soared in popularity especially among the middle classes.

In 1992 after 20 years at the Mail, David English became editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers.

He died in 1998.

Rivalry in the tabloid market intensified in 1984 when Robert Maxwell took over the Mirror Group.

In February 1987 he launched the London Daily News - in direct competition with Associated Newspaper's Evening Standard.

However, after fierce resistance from Associated Newspapers the London Daily News closed in July 1987 with losses in the region of 50m.

In 1986 a new tabloid entered the market when Eddy Shah launched Today - the first national newspaper to be printed in colour.

But in 1995 Today became the first national paper to close since the Daily Sketch.

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