Readers of Britain's best-selling tabloid, The Sun, seemed this week to have stopped running pictures of topless women on page 3, a staple of the U.K. press since 1970.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper began showing "Page 3 Girls" as a way to court blue-collar workers, but its days have seemed numbered since Mr. Murdoch tweeted in September that the page was old-fashioned. A "No More Page 3" campaign has won support on social media in recent years, garnering almost 220,000 signatures in favor of scrapping the controversial images.
Reports that the photos were gone from print suddenly seemed wrong, however, when The Sun tweeted a photo of what it said was an upcoming page 3 -- with a photo of a topless woman.
"Page 3 is really beyond its use-by date," said David Banks, a former editor at The Sun whose job as night editor was choosing the woman for the next day's newspaper. "It's inevitable its time has come."
Murdoch's News U.K. operation, a division of News Corp. that owns The Sun and The Times of London newspapers, did not respond to queries about the decision to drop the feature.
The Sun is Britain's No. 1 newspaper with a daily circulation of 1.89 million at the end of December, according to the U.K.'s Audit Bureau of Circulations. While the paper is best known for Page 3 and covering celebrity sex scandals, it has been polishing its image recently to appeal more to families.
The "No More Page 3" Facebook site, a campaign started by writer Lucy-Anne Holmes to "Take the Bare Boobs Out of The Sun," was filled with congratulatory messages today and notes on TV appearances to discuss the move.
"It wasn't about Page 3 being offensive but about the impact on our society of judging men and women by different standards," Stella Creasy, a lawmaker for Walthamstow in London, said in a BBC Radio 4 interview today. "It was saying to all of us that what mattered was our breasts not our brains."
Page 3 first drew opposition in the 1980s, when lawmaker Clare Short introduced a bill in Parliament to kill the feature. In recent years British universities including Oxford and the London School of Economics canceled subscriptions. The Murdoch-owned Irish Sun dropped its version of Page 3 a year and a half ago.
~ Bloomberg News ~