UK Government Plans Ban On Foreign Government Ownership Of British Media

The British government announced plans to ban foreign governments from owning newspapers and magazines in the UK. This move comes amid controversy surrounding a proposed takeover of the Daily Telegraph and Spectator by a United Arab Emirates-backed firm, RedBird IMI, according to The BBC.

The new legislation, introduced as an amendment to the Digital Markets Act currently in Parliament, aims to safeguard a free press. Critics of the Telegraph deal expressed concerns about foreign government influence on British media.

This ban would effectively block the current takeover bid by RedBird IMI, forcing them to restructure their ownership if they wish to proceed. Foreign individuals and private companies will still be allowed to own British publications under the proposed law.

As per The BBC, a spokesperson for the UAE-funded group said they were “extremely disappointed by today’s development.”.

Announcing the ban, British Culture Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “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.”

He added: “Under the new measures, the secretary of state would be obliged to refer media merger cases to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) through a new foreign state intervention notice.”

A spokesperson for the RedBird IMI firm said they “remain committed” to investing in global media, adding: “We will now evaluate our next steps, with commercial interests continuing to be the sole priority.”