UK To Forbid Foreign Control of Media, Block UAE Imminent Purchase of Conservative Paper Telegraph

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Written By Maya Cantina

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There’s nothing unprecedented about foreign billionaires – in many cases from Arabian kingdoms such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – to own relevant and historical real estate, as well as university facilities, think tanks and even beloved sports teams.

But apparently, newspapers are a no-go.

An investment coming from the UAE has thrown British politicians, media and even intelligence officials into a frenzy.

The UK government has revealed its plans to stop foreign states from owning newspapers. This will potentially give ministers the power to block Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI’s bid to buy the traditional British paper Telegraph.

Reuters reported:

“The battle over one of Britain’s most famous newspapers has raised questions about the independence of the media and the role of foreign investors acquiring ownership of politically influential assets.”

The Telegraph has long supported Britain’s governing Conservative Party. The struggle for its ownership is about politics, power and influence.

“Stephen Parkinson, the culture minister in the House of Lords, said the government would make changes through an amendment to legislation going through parliament to prevent foreign states from having ownership of British newspapers.

‘We will amend the media merger regime explicitly to rule out newspaper and periodical news magazine mergers involving ownership, influence or control by foreign states’, Parkinson told the Lords.”

The conservative, 168 yearl-old paper is a national treasure.

The changes to the law would block the Telegraph takeover bid by RedBird IMI. The group also plans to buy the Spectator news magazine.

RedBird IMI is run by former CNN boss Jeff Zucker, and has a majority funding from Abu Dhabi.

The new ban on foreign control will be put to a vote in the House of Lords in the next few weeks.

It would have to clear the vote there and also in the lower House of Commons, before the new rules would come into force.

“Parkinson said the new measures would create a new obligation for the government to refer any relevant media merger to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) watchdog.

If the CMA determined that the merger ‘has resulted, or would result, in foreign state ownership, influence or control over a newspaper enterprise’, then the government would be legally required to order the merger be blocked or unwound.”

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