The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Regionalised editions are published in Glasgow (The Scottish Sun) and Dublin (The Irish Sun). It is published by the News Group Newspapers division of News International, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdochs News Corporation.
The Sun has been involved in a number of controversies in its history, including its coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster, false allegations against Elton John, and its attitude towards mental ill health, homosexuality and women.
On 26 February 2012, The Sun on Sunday was launched to replace the defunct News of the World, employing a number of its former journalists.
The Sun also has an iPad edition that costs £4.99 for a 30-day subscription and an app, priced at 69p.
The Sun was first published as a broadsheet on 15 September 1964 – with a logo featuring a glowing orange disc. It was launched by owners IPC (International Publishing Corporation) to replace the failing Daily Herald.
The new paper was intended to add a readership of social radicals to the Heralds political radicals. According to The Times, the brash new paper burst forth with tremendous energy. Launching with a readership of 3.5m, the large initial print run was attributed to curiosity and the advantage of novelty.
However, the paper did not live up to IPCs expectations and its circulation continued to decline. By 1969, The Sun was losing even more money than the Herald had previously and IPC decided to sell.
The tycoon Robert Maxwell, eager to buy a British newspaper, offered to take it off their hands and retain its commitment to the Labour party, but admitted there would be redundancies, especially among the printers. Rupert Murdoch had bought the News of the World, a sensationalist Sunday newspaper, the previous year, but the presses in the basement of his building in Londons Bouverie Street sat idle six days a week.
Seizing the opportunity to increase his presence on Fleet Street, he made an agreement with the print unions, promising fewer redundancies if he acquired the newspaper. He assured IPC that he would publish a "straightforward, honest newspaper" which would continue to support Labour. IPC, under pressure from the unions, rejected Maxwells offer, and Murdoch bought the paper for £800,000, to be paid in instalments. He would later remark: "I am constantly amazed at the ease with which I entered British newspapers."
The Daily Herald had been printed in Manchester since 1930, as was the Sun after its launch in 1964. but Murdoch stopped printing in Manchester in 1969 which put the ageing Bouverie Street presses under extreme pressure as circulation grew.
Murdoch appointed Larry Lamb as his first editor. Lamb was scathing in his opinion of the Mirror, where he had recently been employed as a senior sub-editor. He shared Murdochs view that the measure of a papers quality was best measured by its sales, and he regarded the Mirror as overstaffed, and primarily aimed at an ageing readership. Lamb hastily recruited a staff of about 125 reporters, who were mostly selected for their availability rather than their ability.
This was about a quarter of what the Mirror then employed, and Murdoch had to draft in staff on loan from his Australian papers. Murdoch immediately relaunched The Sun as a tabloid, and ran it as a sister paper to the News of the World. The Sun used the same printing presses, and the two papers were now managed together at senior executive levels.
The tabloid Sun first published on 17 November 1969, with a front page headlined "HORSE DOPE SENSATION" – an exclusive in which a racing trainer admitted he was doping his horses. The paper copied its rival The Daily Mirror in several ways. It was the same size and its masthead had the title in white on a red rectangle of the same colour as the Daily Mirror. The Mirrors "Lively Letters" was matched by "Liveliest Letters", and the comic strip "Garth" by a comic strip "Scarth" featuring a frequently naked woman.
Controversy was only ignited over the next four years when the topless Page Three girl gradually became a regular fixture, and with increasingly risqué poses. Both feminists and many cultural conservatives saw the pictures as pornographic and misogynistic. A public library in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, banned the paper because of its "excessive sexual content".
Politically, The Sun in the early Murdoch years, remained nominally Labour. It supported the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson in the 1970 General Election, with the headline "Why It Must Be Labour" but by February 1974 it was calling for a vote for the Conservative Party while suggesting that it might support a Labour Party led by James Callaghan or Roy Jenkins.
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