Rupert Murdoch's 'The Sun' Denies It Is Dropping Topless Model Photos

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Critics have called the U.K. tabloid's page 3, which started using such pictures in 1970, sexist and anachronistic.

British tabloid The Sun, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has denied ending the use of topless model photos on page 3 in its print edition. Media reports circulated earlier in the week that the photos would be discontinued.

The paper will continue to use such photos online as well. Over the years, the photos in Britain's best-selling newspaper have repeatedly faced criticism that previously led to the Irish edition of the tabloid axing them in 2013. Critics have called the photos sexist and anachronistic.

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The Times, which like The Sun is part of News Corp's News UK unit, said that Friday’s edition of the paper was the last that would “carry an image of a glamor model with bare breasts on that page." It quoted a representative as saying: "Page 3 of The Sun is where it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at"

The Sun had started showing topless models on page 3 in 1970. A spokeswoman for campaign group No More Page 3 told The Guardian: "This could be truly historic news and a great day for people power" and "could be a huge step for challenging media sexism."

News UK CEO Mike Darcey was asked about the future of The Sun's page 3 topless model photos last year. He said the Sun's editor would be the person to make such decisions, emphasizing: "My job is to run the business. I don't tell the editors what to put in the paper." But he added that the paper's offers remain popular with readers.

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Murdoch himself tweeted about page 3 in September, saying: "I think old fashioned but readers seem to disagree."

On Jan. 22, The Sun tweeted a NSFW photo of its page 3 from that day's issue, which included a topless model beneath the headline, "Clarifications and Corrections." A message on the page read: "We would like to apologize on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us."

Jan. 21 at 7:25 p.m. Updated with The Sun's tweet.

Twitter: @georgszalai