Hiding Behind The Sun's Paywall: Topless Women?

Photographer: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

Photographer: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

After Britain’s top-selling tabloid, The Sun, starts charging for online access in August, there may be no Page 3 Girl -- at least for subscribers who choose to opt out of the paper's daily photo of a topless woman.

The tabloid, which has offered the fixture since 1969, is considering subscription pricing plans that would allow readers to choose which bits of the paper they want to see. So readers who prefer not to see Page 3, or those who want only sports news, or perhaps British politics, may be able to tailor their subscription, paying just for the features they want.

“Digitally we don’t have the same issue like in the paper, and people could read Page 3 in privacy,” said Katie Vanneck-Smith, head of marketing at News International, the U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns The Sun. “Or some women won’t have to view it at all.”

News International has been working with Zuora, a cloud-based billing service based in California, to offer bespoke subscriptions. “Paywalls are not a one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Tien Tzuo, Zuora's CEO. "People can tailor their subscription by topic or by crossing publications and getting sports across the entire News Corp. family, for example.”

Murdoch’s The Times of London added a paywall in 2010 and now offers eight types of subscriptions. The Sun, with a daily circulation of more than 2 million, will start with simple subscription packages when the paywall is introduced, and then add more options later, according to Vanneck-Smith. Readers “will pay for things they value,” she said. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t confident people would pay."

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