My Intervention on the Ministerial Statement – Telegraph Media Group Ltd: Acquisition

Sir John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):

I strongly welcome the Secretary of State’s clear statement of policy that foreign states should not be allowed to take over press and media in this country, which is a welcome development. I hope that in the proposals for amending the law it will be clear that the policy relates not only to Governments but to nationalised industries, public authorities or companies in which states have significant influence because of their shareholdings. If that is not set out, such bodies may try to find ways around the law. I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend is up to that, but can we please have an amendment that absolutely nails press freedom in the way we want it to exist—free of influence from foreign states?

Lucy Frazer (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport):

I understand my right hon. Friend’s points. When we bring forward legislation, it is important that it does not have loopholes. As a Department, we thought very carefully about how we can protect against that. When the Bill comes back to this House this afternoon, he will see that we have defined foreign state ownership very broadly. We have extended the definition to include not only ownership but control and influence.

53 Comments

  1. Mark B
    May 2, 2024

    Good morning.

    Media is global. We no longer get our news and information via the daily rag so I do not believe that a foreigner or even a foreign government owning a news outlet to be as bad as say the same owning various parts of our infrastructure, such as energy, water, telecommunications and transport. Even our tech and nuclear companies can be sold off at a whim.

    Odd how some sectors seem protected whilst others not.

    1. Lemming
      May 2, 2024

      Fully agree, Mark. Shocking hypocrisy here, almost all our press is owned by people who don’t pay their taxes in this country, but you don’t hear a peep of protest about that from the Conservatives

      1. Peter
        May 2, 2024

        Why are our police so ineffective when dealing with people like the Hainault murderer. A poor schoolboy is dead and police officers seriously wounded.

        Tasers are often useless. American police also use bean bags that deliver a hefty blow. However, in the last resort US police have firearms which they are not reluctant to use.

        Perpetrators are mostly either captured with little harm to others or killed with no problems of how to proceed with the criminal. Officers are put on leave until the case is reviewed.

        Police activity videos are now in the public domain which show that such methods are effective.

    2. dixie
      May 2, 2024

      Quite so – Hurst media estimate the Telegraph circulation is 309k with a readership of 734k and they will be looking at other sources as well.
      Why is so much effort and time being spent by politicians on this topic which doesn’t effect the vast majority while ignoring or messing up issues that do effect us.

      1. Everhopeful
        May 2, 2024

        I suppose if you control something and you know how important that control is to your machinations…you don’t want to relinquish said control.
        A compliant press is a huge asset to a bossy, interfering and spiteful govt. and presumably the flogging off of such an asset would be a diversity too far.
        Up until now it hasn’t been too bothered about what it sold off or to whom.

      2. Mitchel
        May 2, 2024

        Well,the Establishment shills need somewhere to blovate,poor dears!

    3. Everhopeful
      May 2, 2024

      And doesn’t our media appear to be very controlled anyway?

    4. Sir Joe Soap
      May 2, 2024

      Indeed and we’ve been too open. Great if all that money comes in to buy our old industries and free up cash to invest in new ones. But that’s not happened recently. Much of the cash ends up back in HMG coffers to support the feckless and corrupt. We need to become far more protective in what we do and don’t sell to overseas interests.

    5. Ian B
      May 2, 2024

      @Mark B, – while clearly the system is corrupt and freedoms have been salami sliced away, but there should be no reason to encourage those with an opposite view of UK Society to become front and foremost in bending thoughts. That is already bad enough with the hypocrites in the HoC, Labour it a communist version to the right of this Conservative Government, ‘One Nation’ means you are a misplaced Socialist but don’t want people to know it.
      While I can understand your point, the real question must be reciprocity, would a UK entity be permitted the same access in the domains these groups come from.
      Gordon Brown sold our Nuclear capability as it was not needed, ARM was sold to a Country that would not permit a UK Company to buy similar in their Country. ‘Reciprocity’ is the starting point

      1. Rita
        May 2, 2024

        Excellent points!
        Just hope they reach the ears of those who can change things and that they listen and do so. One can but pray for miracles to happen.

    6. MFD
      May 2, 2024

      I agree with that remark Mark +1

    7. Peter
      May 2, 2024

      I tried to make a similar point about ‘selling off the family silver’ (Macmillan) but it disappeared.

      No laws to prevent majority foreign ownership of important British industries.

      Nothing to prevent foreign ownership of property and land. Foreigners can also hide such ownership behind opaque legal entities.

      Reply We put in Golden shares to block foreign takeovers of privatised companies. Labour abolished them, probably under EU pressure

  2. Michelle
    May 2, 2024

    To be honest I’m more concerned with influence from unelected groups interference in the running of our country.

    1. Ian B
      May 2, 2024

      @Michelle + 1

    2. Mickey Taking
      May 2, 2024

      Quite !

    3. Rita
      May 2, 2024

      Exactly so Michelle.

  3. Lifelogic
    May 2, 2024

    Well said.

    From the Telegraph today the sensible Allister Heath:- “Nihilistic, pro-Palestinian protests are a harbinger of much worse to come. Western society is being poisoned by a virulent contagion of ‘victimhood’ and self-entitlement”… “the ignorant, entitled little delinquents running riot in so many of the world’s greatest universities are truly an embarrassment. The product of a catastrophic social experiment, of years of brainwashing and coddling, they embody all of the Western world’s most debilitating pathologies.”

    1. Peter
      May 2, 2024

      LL,

      Your usual ‘ xxxx is surely right in today’s Telegraph’ post.

      Heath’s post if just long-winded rubbish. People can see for themselves what is happening. The powers that be no longer have control of the narrative and it worries them.

    2. Ian B
      May 2, 2024

      @Lifelogic +1, our governments are to frightened of their own shadows to defend people basic rights and freedoms, unless of course they are imposed by the outside corrupt law ‘makers’ of the ECHR

    3. hefner
      May 2, 2024

      If Allister had two brain cells, he would know his history and that in 1968 the protests in universities against the Vietnam War over a large fraction of the Western world were much more prevalent and sustained than what is presently happening over Israel and Gaza. He would also know that it did not prevent Reagan and Thatcher from coming to the fore ten years later and that it was not the end of ‘civilization’.
      But Allister is only there to feed empty-headed people like you their dose of the right-wing gruel you appear to be so keen on.
      People get the ‘thought leaders’ they deserved.

      1. Peter
        May 2, 2024

        hefner,
        Agreed. Zoe Strimpel usually writes that sort of stuff, but others get roped in to provide a semblance of variety.

      2. Know-Dice
        May 2, 2024

        True Hefner,
        But in the sixties the demonstration was also about the “Daft”, except I guess those going to university avoided it in any case…

    4. Ed M
      May 2, 2024

      Narcissism extends to both people of the left and right (and liberals).
      Narcissists on the left play the moaning, entitled, victim card.
      Narcissists on the right are arrogant and aggressive.
      (And liberals a bit of both plus wet).
      Right-wing, at its best, embodies the values of the truly masculine (a leader, protector, provider, creator).
      Left-wing, at its best, embodies the values of the truly feminine (nurturing, empathetic, caring, connected).
      We need the masculine and feminine to work together and balance each other ad well as help the other flourish.

      1. Ed M
        May 2, 2024

        Patriotism is a great example of balance.
        Anti-patriots are / weak / wet / passive.
        Nationalists are aggressive / arrogant.
        But patriots truly love their country. They will risk their life to defend it but without making a big song and dance about it. They are happy. Fulfilled. See the beauty of life and their country all around them. They are strong but without being brittle or aggressive. They are empathetic without being wet!

        1. Peter
          May 2, 2024

          Ed M,
          You are overthinking things.

          Maybe you are a victim of the trick cyclists yourself?

          1. Ed M
            May 3, 2024

            No, I’m talking philosophy! Without good philosophy underpinning politics you end up with chaos. Now I might be a useless philosopher but challenge me on that .. not on over-thinking.

            BTW, in order to create the Apple company or defeat Nazis in WW2 or be Sir Francis Chichester sailing around the world or to learn to write music like Bach you have to think a lot! Thinking challenges mediocrity which is a curse on the world.

          2. Ed M
            May 3, 2024

            Also, big prob in our society is that we fall into extremes and then us against them mentality – turning others into enemies. I only have one real enemy and that is my flawed nature. The ultimate heroic battle in life is to defeat one’s own flawed nature!

        2. Mike Wilson
          May 3, 2024

          Patriots that ‘love their country’ have brains the size of peas. It’s an accident of birth. Or a decision your parents took when you were a child (to emigrate). It’s an illusion. A delusion. Worse then religion.

  4. Bloke
    May 2, 2024

    Some sense of the UK acting to protect its own interests is important. It’s late again owing to how much our capabilities for control had been shifted remotely overseas for so long. The notion of anyone in China or Russia regarding it as OK for foreign countries to own and run their national media or public utilities is strange. People opposed to the UK would favour that loss of control happening here; even some in ‘our’ government. Soon, after an election, they are prone to lose control of even themselves.

  5. Roy Grainger
    May 2, 2024

    Ah yes, the illiberal government that likes banning things (tobacco, gas boilers, cars, etc. etc.) has written this banning law “very broadly” to include “control and influence”. And they will decide what constitutes this vaguely defined “influence” ? Stand by for Labour to take advantage of this opportunity to meddle too, for example by banning US media groups who have shown any support for Trump at any time (not many, I know) from bidding for any UK media assets under this “influence” heading.

    1. Ian B
      May 2, 2024

      @Roy Grainger +1, agreed to many wide interpretations that can be easily abused today and in the future. We have Governments that are frightened of the People so back-door control is the priority. Free speech is just for those that agree with them (whom ever the them is at the time)

  6. Lifelogic
    May 2, 2024

    The true tragedy of the Covid-19 vaccines
    The jabs undoubtedly saved lives, but overblown claims sadly damaged the reputation of vaccination
    The usually sensible MATT RIDLEY today.

    Where is the evidence Matt that they “undoubtedly saved net lives”. The statistics worldwide rather indicate the reverse.

    1. Everhopeful
      May 2, 2024

      Our “free press” has to add little riders like that or it would get errrr “ cancelled”.
      No proper discussion.
      No reflection on how the press helped promote panic, confusion and destruction.

      “Overblown claims” …what a strange way of putting it!

      1. Lifelogic
        May 2, 2024

        +1

    2. Mickey Taking
      May 2, 2024

      Come off it LL – are you really saying that the millions who were jabbed and did not contract Covid were not ‘saved’? We took the jabs and considered ourselves protected to a large degree, while friends, relatives and strangers (to us) had horrendous medical experience with Covid and still maintain they were damaged.

      1. Mike Wilson
        May 3, 2024

        You are under a misapprehension. Having the Covid vaccine did not, and was never going to, stop you getting Covid. That is not how a mRNA vaccine works. Those that were ‘jabbed and did not contract Covid’ didn’t avoid Covid because they were jabbed. They just didn’t catch it. I know lots of people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who have not had Covid. And the opposite is true, too. I believe the 3rd vaccine gave me arrhythmia and an elevated pulse rate. The arrhythmia has gone. My pulse rate is still 10 higher than before the jabs. The truth will out- as long as the internet is still vaguely uncensored.

    3. MFD
      May 2, 2024

      Thats more like the truth, I read today that most of thise jabbed at least once will be dead in five years— we’ll see!

      1. Mike Wilson
        May 3, 2024

        Where did you read that?

    4. Ed M
      May 2, 2024

      Whatever mistakes made – and many – Covid was almost mother earth (or God if you are a believer) saying ‘what are you doing running around like mindless rats – destroying family, society, culture, civilisation and to a degree the world itself (from pollution to war with deadly weapons’ – and everyone to blame not just one group. Get a grip, mother earth says ..

  7. Everhopeful
    May 2, 2024

    Can the new law ( as effective as the Rwanda one?) extend to selling off the King’s subjects to international treaties?
    The MSM in its present form would NEVER have revealed all of the behind scenes dealings.
    Only thanks to the internet the powers that be were so keen to force on us.
    Otherwise we would still be totally in the dark.

    1. Mike Wilson
      May 3, 2024

      Why do you trot out this King’s subjects’ nonsense? Is the fact that we have a Royal Family ludicrously and half-heartedly embodied in our constitution relevant to you? For you, does being a ‘subject of your King’ mean something? Do you have a forelock to tug? Do you bow and scrape in the presence of ‘royalty’? If so, why? Are they better than you?
      Why not just say ‘people’ instead of the ‘King’s subjects’? Are we in a Shrek film?

  8. Ian B
    May 2, 2024

    Sir John
    There are comparisons, the USA caused Murdock to become a US Citizen even a private citizen before he could get involved in US Media. Bidens’ tax breaks, have caused UK Companies to quit the UK to take up home in the US.
    There is an endless list, then when it comes to those that wish taxpayer funding – it gets paid out in the US when in practice it goes around the system (stays in the Country).
    The UK’s open borders are great and good in practice, but we need to add a proviso ‘when reciprocated’. China doesn’t permit what the UK Government allows them to do in the UK. So, to the EU, it’s a closed shop not an open level playing field mutual trade, as it has enforceable contrived trade barriers.

  9. DOM
    May 2, 2024

    The bigger threat to media freedom comes from the British state and many of its agents like filthy OFCOM (in alliance with Labour’s Hate not Hope) who target news company that refuse to promote the Neo-Marxist poison of the ludicrously titled progressive

    Come on John,tell it as it is and point out all the threats to freedom of expression rather than cherry picking

  10. DOM
    May 2, 2024

    Starmer to give +50k economic migrants the right to stay. No doubt with familial rights attached. That will be around 300k then, unemployed, need housing, benefits etc etc……No doubt then he’ll really open up the floodgates to import a new bloc vote

    If the Tory party can’t exploit Starmer’s cultural and ethnic extremism then there’s no hope. This party has the platform, just do it

    1. Mike Wilson
      May 3, 2024

      This party has the platform, just do it

      When are you going to realise ‘this party’ is at least as keen on mass immigration as Labour. They do not care that most will vote Labour – the party knows the game is up. They’ll be out of power for a generation, maybe forever. They don’t care.

  11. formula57
    May 2, 2024

    So if foreign governments think they advantage themselves by activities this new law is designed to counter, where are the British government’s like plans?

    Had the BBC not been infected by the myopia and smug complacency all too typical in the public sector, it could have eclipsed the likes of Netflix years ago. Instead, whilst not foreign-owned and so untouched by this new law, it might as well be.

    The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department (What would President Milei do with such a ministry?) needs to get out more. It is, by the way, appallingly sexist, employing a disproportionately high number of women. A prime candidate for cancellation it seems.

  12. The Prangwizard
    May 2, 2024

    I am delighted to read our host’s words, not just in regard to the media but wider as stated. It is clear and determined which certainly needs to be said more often and by more people.

    I would go further, there are many industries which should remain owned by us, far too many companies have been sold in recent years, only too often dismantled and taken away. We need a complete change of policy, the word protection should be resurrected.

  13. Derek
    May 2, 2024

    Clearly, it is wrong to allow any foreigners full control over our media and with our infrastructure. We already allow them to “play” with our utility suppliers and power generation companies also our Defence manufacturers. I wonder how many of the western allies allow the same exposure? The concept is wrong because we should never allow a foreign State to be in a position to permit them to disable or negatively effect the country in any way. However, it has been the UK policy for decades, except for newspapers, I believe. Now is the time to stop the rot and keep British media and dedicated British concerns, in Britain, under our control. That means maintaining British control over the DT – And keeping the WHO, et al, out of our democracy.

  14. Iago
    May 2, 2024

    Good.
    Ideally, most of our medicines should be made in this country and certainly in the civilized world, thus cancelling our main supplier, the Chinese Communist Party.

  15. Margaret
    May 2, 2024

    Free to make fake news!

  16. Ed M
    May 2, 2024

    What are the Tories doing to peacefully challenge Iran like the way the West challenged Communist Soviet Union liasing with Lech Wallesa and others.
    The Iranian leaders have failed to deliver prosperity and choice in Iran. Young Iranians look at the West and want what we have. Including freedom and democracy.
    There are huge holes in the Iranian leadership. It is extremely brittle / fragile. And yet they continue to rule including sewing seeds of distrust in the West (and of course Israel) and helping Russia (and lots of Iranians fleeing Iran for UK because of Iranian instability).
    Instead, Iran should be a strong, prosperous and free nation we can do financial business and trade with.

  17. Reform_Now
    May 5, 2024

    “public authorities or companies in which states have significant influence because of their shareholdings”

    Or because of the country’s laws.

    China for example requires companies to pass data to the Chinese govt.

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