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Report: British tabloid The Sun 'ends' topless Page 3 feature

Owner, Rupert Murdoch, had described the feature as 'old fashioned'

Published: Updated:

British tabloid The Sun is reportedly dropping its “Page Three” featuring topless women, in a move welcomed by campaigners against the page but greeted with remorse by some members of the public.

According to The Times, which like The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, last Friday’s edition was the last to feature topless models, ending a practice that dates back more than 44 years.

“The Sun has got its top on . . . page 3 covers up after 45 years,” read the headline of The Time’s article.

But in an interview with Al Arabiya News, Dylan Sharpe, the head of PR at The Sun, refused to confirm the report, describing The Times report as “pure speculation.”

“Just because we work in the same building doesn’t mean they know about the long-term strategy of The Sun,” Sharpe told Al Arabiya News.

‘Old fashioned’

The four-decade old feature was widely branded by campaigners since 2012 as a sexist anachronism. In 2014, Murdoch himself described it as “old fashioned.”

“It's an historic moment, but the devil will be in the detail, and there’s still a lot to be done," Angela Towers, a campaigner for the "No More Page Three"group, told The Independent.

"The sexualization, the objectification of women in this way was basically saying to all of us that what mattered, frankly, were our breasts not our brains," said opposition Labour MP Stella Creasy.

In 2012, a YouGov poll surveying more than 1,700 people found that almost 50 percent of people backed the removal of the feature, while 32 percent believed it should stay. Nineteen percent were undecided. More men thought the feature should stay than women: 48 percent versus 36 percent.

Although welcomed by campaigners, some lamented its purported demise, citing nostalgic reasons.

“Am I the only female alive who thinks the demise of #Page3 is quite sad/nostalgic? End of an era,” @coolmunnings, a Twitter users, tweeted.

“Now how am I supposed to find out what Jade, 21 from Birmingham thinks about the privatization of the NHS [National Health Service]?!” @_KirkSutherland, another Twitter user, said in a post.

Some even took to tongue-in-cheek jokes on the matter.

“#Page3 alternatives: Men holding kittens Hedgehogs in novelty hats Humorously rude looking fruit Reader's dinners Tupperware of Bognor” tweeted @MittenDAmour.

Not the end

While the print edition of the paper will discontinue the page, according to The Times report, the feature will remain online.

A spokesman for The Sun said: “Page three of The Sun is where it's always been, between pages two and four, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at Page3.com,” according to Reuters.

The Sun had been in severe decline until Murdoch bought it in 1969, turned it into a tabloid and introduced a brash, irreverent style of popular journalism so successful that circulation rocketed from 800,000 to 4 million in a decade.

In line with a trend affecting most of the British press, its circulation has dropped sharply since the glory days. It slipped to just below 2 million in October last year for the first time since 1971.

(With Reuters)