The Prime Minister says he does not support a ban on topless images of women in the Sun newspaper – believing it is up to consumers, not regulators, to decide.
A group campaigning against Page 3 criticised David Cameron, saying the pictures are “damaging for women”.
In recent months there have been growing calls to stop the images, including from the Guides and a former Page 3 model.
But Mr Cameron, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, said: “This is an area where we should leave it to consumers to decide, rather than to regulators”.
He commented: “We have to always ask the question where should we regulate and where shouldn’t we regulate, and on this one I think it is probably better to leave it to the consumer”.
“In the end it’s an issue of personal choice whether people buy a newspaper or don’t buy a newspaper”, he said.
The founder of the No More Page 3 campaign, Lucy Holmes, said: “The problem is that none of us get the choice of whether we want to live in a society where newspapers are primarily there for men’s sexual pleasure.”
She commented: “All we want to see is women represented with respect in the tabloid media, but everywhere we see female sexuality and the female body presented as being there for men”.
“David Cameron must see that these pictures are damaging for women. Is he afraid of upsetting the Sun?”, she added.
Earlier this month Green MP Caroline Lucas criticised the “normalising” effect of Page 3, as the newspaper can be seen in public places such as cafes, buses and hairdressers.
In April Girlguiding UK backed the bid to end the images, with a public affairs group within the movement commenting: “We feel that this is just wrong and has to stop.”
In October last year a former Page 3 model said the pictures send out the wrong message.
Nina Carter, one of the first such models in the Seventies, said, “this message of nudity in these family newspapers is not necessarily a good one”.