Last Friday's print edition of The Sun was the last to feature a bare-breasted woman, ending one of British journalism's most controversial traditions after 45 years, according to The Times
, the tabloid's sister paper.
The Sun refused to confirm the report on Tuesday. "It's all speculation by people who don't work on the newspaper," a spokesman told CNN. "We regularly mix it up, there's no hard and fast rule."
Despite The Sun's denial, the women featured on the third page of this week's editions have indeed covered up -- model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley posing in lingerie on Monday, and bikini-clad soap opera stars frolicking on the beach on Tuesday.
An overhaul of the most infamous page in the country would be seen as the end of an era and a victory for critics who have derided Page 3 as a sexist anachronism in a society that has moved on since 1970, when Rupert Murdoch launched the feature shortly after purchasing the paper.
Stephanie Rahn, a 20-year-old German supermodel, was the first to strip off for the paper in November 1970. Page 3 quickly became an institution and "Page 3 girl" entered the British vernacular.
The topless pics were credited by some for giving a boost to The Sun's circulation figures, as well as launching the careers of a number of glamor models over the years, including Melinda Messenger, Samantha Fox and Katie Price.
But Murdoch had come under increasing pressure since 2012, when the No More Page 3
campaign -- whose slogan is "Boobs aren't News" -- demanded that The Sun's editors kill the page. The group's online petition
has attracted more than 217,000 signatures since its launch.
Murdoch, the media tycoon who also owns 21st Century Fox, seemed to indicate that change could be on the way when he branded Page 3 "old fashioned" in a tweet last September.
A spokeswoman for No More Page 3 expressed delight about the rumors but said The Sun needed to go even further.
"We're really pleased, it's a definite step in the right direction," Laura Ashton told CNN. "It kind of depends a bit as well what they replace it with -- if it continues to be women in bikinis then it's still women being objectified, and we don't really think there's any place for that in a national newspaper, so the campaign will continue."
Ashton also had her own idea for what Page 3 could feature in the future: "I'd love to see a celebration of women -- The Sun's in a really unique position here where they could turn things around after 45 years of giving us sexist images. They could celebrate women in sport, or some other way in which women contribute to society."
No More Page 3 was launched by Lucy-Ann Holmes in the summer of 2012 after the writer and actress noticed that
the "largest female image in The Sun newspaper was of a young woman showing her breasts for men, even though Jessica Ennis had won her tremendous Gold Medal in the London Olympics."
Although topless shots may no longer grace the paper's print edition, the group's campaign is far from over. The tradition lives on at The Sun's Page 3 website, and the Daily Star, another British tabloid, was still featuring naked models on page 3 as of Tuesday.