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Playboy magazine to stop publishing pictures of naked women

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‘Provocative’ images will still feature in redesigned magazine, but editors say founder Hugh Hefner has agreed that fully nude shots are ‘passé’

Playboy magazine will stop publishing pictures of fully nude women because the ubiquity of internet pornography has made such images “passé”, the company’s chief executive has revealed.

In an interview with the New York Times , CEO Scott Flanders said founder Hugh Hefner, 89, had agreed with a proposal to stop publishing images of naked women from March 2016.

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The redesigned Playboy, 62 years after it was launched by Hefner, will still feature a Playmate of the Month and provocative pictures of women, but they will be rated PG-13 (a rating that cautions that material may be inappropriate for children under 13).

Flanders told the NYT: “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

Related: From the archive, 6 September 1969: Hugh Hefner, playboy of a twilight world

In other changes, the sex columnist will be a “sex-positive female” and the target of the magazine will be young employed males. “The difference between us and Vice ,” Flanders said, “is that we’re going after the guy with a job.”

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The Playboy website has already been given a makeover and made safe to read at work, resulting in younger readers and an increase in web traffic.

The chief content officer of the magazine, Cory Jones, said the magazine would be more accessible and more intimate, admitting: “Twelve-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do.”

The US issue of Playboy is no longer profitable, but exists as a marketing tool for the international editions and the Playboy licensing business, which is profitable. The magazine’s circulation has dropped from 5.6m in 1975 to about 800,000 now, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

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Marilyn Monroe was on the first cover of the magazine in 1953 and the editor’s letter from Hefner said: “If you’re a man between the ages of 18 and 80, Playboy is meant for you. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex … ”

An Australian version of the magazine was published between February 1979 and January 2000, when it folded after sales sank to just 25,000 copies.

It had been owned first by Kerry Packer, who sold the rights to Mason Stewart Publishing in 1982. Celebrities who featured in Australian Playboy include singer Dannii Minogue, actresses Sophie Lee and Abigail, and model Elle MacPherson.

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The announcement of an end to naked images came on the same day Australian men’s magazine Zoo, published by Bauer Media, put out its final issue due to a slump in sales.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015

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