It’s published by News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, from a compound in Wapping which they notoriously moved to in 1986 after months of clandestine preparations during which relations with the print unions (who were unaware of the planned move) broke down completely.
Originally launched as a left-of-centre broadsheet, it switched to tabloid format upon Murdoch’s takeover of the paper in 1969, and moved to the political right during the course of the 1970s, providing strong support to Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives throughout her leadership of that party and, indeed, to John Major in the 1992 election. It shifted its support to Labour for the general elections in 1997, 2001 and 2005, although the support was fairly lukewarm (some might say opportunist) – then shifted back again in September 2009 (some might definitely say opportunist).
That said, its political content is pretty superficial. Much more of the paper is taken up with celebrity gossip, sport, bizarre news stories, and games of chance like the National Lottery and its own Sun Bingo service. It’s infamous for its sensational headlines such as “Gotcha!” (on the sinking of the Argentinian destroyer General Belgrano during the Falklands War) and “Phew! What a scorcher” – and its Page Three pictures of topless girls.
It’s reviled by many on the left as often verging on the xenophobic, the sexist and the boorish. It’s also attracted a good deal of criticism in various parts of the country for its controversial coverage of locally sensitive issues; for instance, it’s unpopular in former mining districts for its support of the Thatcher government during the 1984-85 miners’ strike, and many Liverpool newsagents refuse to stock it because of its allegations that Liverpool fans caught up in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster urinated on the police and robbed the dying.
There’s a separate edition for Scotland, The Scottish Sun, as well as Irish and Overseas editions.
A Sunday edition was launched on 26 February 2012.
Besides the main site and mobile-friendly site, there are also apps for Android smartphones, iPads and iPhones.
With the demise of the News of the World in July 2011 it became the only newspaper published by News International whose website remained free to view, all the others being behind paywalls. However, on 23 July 2013 editor David Dinsmore informed subscribers to the free site that a paywall would be going up on The Sun‘s digital content (including the apps) from 1 August.