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British Queen celebrates

The UK government has announced its intention to ban foreign governments from owning newspapers and news magazines in the country, citing concerns about potential takeovers by entities

backed by foreign states. The move comes amidst apprehension surrounding the proposed acquisition of the Daily Telegraph and Spectator by a group linked to the United Arab Emirates.

Cross-party pressure and the looming threat of a defeat in the House of Lords prompted the government to take action. Labour has signaled its support for the proposed change, which will be introduced as an amendment to a new law scheduled for debate next week.

Media minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay stated that the legislation aims to provide additional safeguards for a free press. Under the proposed law, newspaper and periodical news magazine mergers involving ownership, influence, or control by foreign states will be prohibited.

The amendment will be incorporated into the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill, slated for its third reading next week. Lord Parkinson highlighted that the ban would not extend to broadcasters but could impact the Telegraph Media Group takeover if implemented promptly.

Explaining the provisions of the new measures, Lord Parkinson outlined that the secretary of state would be required to refer media merger cases to the Competition and Markets Authority through a foreign state intervention notice if there are reasonable grounds to suspect foreign state involvement. The Competition and Markets Authority would then investigate potential mergers, and if it concludes that foreign state ownership, influence, or control exists, the secretary of state would be obligated by law to block or reverse the merger. Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, Wikimedia commons.