Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper has ceased publishing topless “Page 3” models after 44 years, an apparent response to changing attitudes and a feminist-led campaign to end the British tabloid's controversial feature.
The U.K.’s top-selling newspaper has carried bare-breasted British glamor models on its third page on weekdays since 1970, alongside an often implausible quote referencing a topical story.
However, no topless women have appeared since Friday and readers were instead directed to the website for pictures.
The Sun declined to comment to NBC News but another Murdoch newspaper, The Times, reported that “Page 3” had been “quietly” dropped. A spokesman told The Times: “Page 3 of The Sun is where it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at Page3.com.”
The Sun has long defended the feature as popular with its core blue-collar readership, but some lawmakers and groups have demanded its removal since the mid-1980s, calling it anachronistic and sexist.
A No More Page 3 campaign — launched in 2012 with the tagline “boobs aren’t news” — attracted more than a quarter of a million signatories to a petition asking the paper’s editor to “stop conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects.”
While the newspaper has not confirmed if the change is permanent, the campaign late Monday said it “could be a huge step for challenging media sexism,” adding: “We are so incredibly grateful to all of you who stood up and said ‘No More Page 3’.”
The seeds of change were sown in 2013 when the newspaper’s Ireland edition dropped Page 3 girls with no significant impact on circulation.
Murdoch himself posted on Twitter in 2014 that he thought the feature “old fashioned” but that “readers seem to disagree.”
Instead of the usual topless girl, Tuesday’s page three of The Sun featured two British television soap actresses running across a beach in their bikinis.
Dylan Sharpe, a spokesman for The Sun, told NBC News: “I am not confirming any change to Page 3. There will be no official comment.”