The leader of one of Europe’s biggest media companies said he was concerned about the sale of the Telegraph and Spectator titles to a media company backed by an autocratic regime.
UK regulators are currently examining whether to grant Abu Dhabi-backed Redbird IMI its request to take over the iconic British publications amid concerns about whether the backers ties to the United Arab Emirates would compromise the editorial independence of the Telegraph or Spectator.
During an interview with Semafor’s Steve Clemmons on Tuesday, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner caveated that he was reluctant to comment on the sale of the Telegraph and Spectator titles, specifically. But he expressed concern about the takeover of influential news brands by organizations with ties to non-democratic governments.
Döpfner clarified that despite public reporting suggesting that Axel Springer would bid on the Telegraph and Spectator, the company never formally entered the process.
The proposed takeover has been heavily criticized by conservative politicians in the UK, who have warned against foreign influence in British media.
Former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker, who is leading Redbird’s bid, has pledged that this won’t happen. He told the Telegraph in an interview that his financial partner, an Emirati royal, would have no involvement in editorial matters. Zucker also pledged to resign if there was any attempt by his financial supporters to intervene in either the Telegraph or the Spectator’s journalism.