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The UK government halted RedBird IMI’s UAE-backed $600m acquisition of Telegraph Media Group. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans for new legislation to bar foreign states from buying UK news organizations on March 13.

Led by former CNN head Jeff Zucker, the bid intended to give control of Telegraph and Spectator titles to RedBird IMI. The consortium, funded by a US investment firm and UAE’s vice-president Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also owns Manchester City. Conservative MPs, analysts, and human rights groups heavily scrutinized the takeover bid due to the Gulf state’s press freedom restrictions.

A RedBird IMI spokesperson expressed extreme disappointment at the UK government’s decision. The consortium believed in further investment in the UK’s media environment. The decision pleased some executives at both publications, potentially boosting Sunak’s party’s poor polling ahead of the upcoming UK election.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., monitored the proceedings closely. Murdoch, along with Daily Mail chairman Jonathan Harmsworth, discussed a joint deal to buy Telegraph Media Group from the Barclay family.

RedBird IMI plans to expand its brand and business in the UK and other English-language media markets, particularly in the US. Despite this, the US is unlikely to tolerate foreign states’ attempts to influence media platforms. On March 13, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that could ban TikTok if its Chinese owner ByteDance refuses to sell to an entity acceptable to President Joe Biden’s government.

The bill received bipartisan support with a vote of 352-65, citing concerns about Chinese Communist Party monitoring of US user data. TikTok has launched an aggressive lobbying strategy in response, while protestors have gathered outside the Capitol building in Washington DC, expressing concerns over their livelihoods and potential impacts on businesses.

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