The Culture Secretary has said that the government could investigate the takeover of the Brexit-supporting Express by the left-wing Trinity Mirror over the question of editorial independence.
Matt Hancock said he was “minded” to launch a government investigation into the takeover of Northern & Shell’s UK publishing assets, which include the Express and Daily Star newspapers, by Trinity Mirror, reports the BBC.
“The first public interest ground [for investigating the merger] is the need for free expression of opinion, and concerns the potential impact the transfer of newspapers would have on editorial decision making,” Mr. Hancock said.
“The second ground is the need for a sufficient plurality of views in newspapers, to the extent that it is reasonable or practicable.”
The Culture Secretary noted that should the buyout of the patriotic tabloid go through, it would mean Trinity Mirror, an organisation which helped found groups like the radical left HOPE not Hate, would hold the largest share of national newspapers in the market – holding nine out of 20 titles.
Mr. Hancock also added that its readership would grow to 28 per cent – making Trinity Mirror, recently renamed Reach, the second largest in circulation terms.
He said that his decision on whether to issue a public interest intervention notice would come “shortly”.
Regulator Investigates Far-Left Trinity Mirror Acquisition of Right-Wing Daily Express over Media Monopoly Concerns https://t.co/P2DbohHQP9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 6, 2018
The statement came after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an initial investigation in March, with a decision on whether to launch a full investigation to come on June 7th.
The “hold separate” order issued last month by the CMA pauses further integration of the media businesses whilst the monopoly regulator conducts its investigation.
The Express was founded in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson, a strong advocate of protectionism and tariff-based trade.
The first editorial of the paper stated: “[The Express] will be the organ of no political party nor the instrument of any social clique… Its editorial policy will be that of an honest Cabinet Minister… Our policy is patriotic; our policy is the British Empire.”
Days after the shareholder vote on the takeover of the Richard Desmond-owned newspapers, Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow and the Daily Star‘s editor Dawn Newsom both resigned and were replaced by Sunday Mirror and Sunday People editor Gary Jones and Daily Mirror associate editor Jon Clark.