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I’ve recently come across Prospect Magazine, a monthly general-interest magazine, specialising in politics, economics and current affairs. It’s edited by Alan Rushbridger (formerly editor of The Guardian and member of the Garrick Club until 2010 according to Private Eye – edition1620).  Recently it turned its attention to GB News and in passing to Paul Marshall who is bidding for the Telegraph and Spectator. He must be feeling confident now that the Government has suddenly taken an interest in media ownership and with the future of these two right wing publications in mind they have announced plans to ban foreign governments from owning British newspapers and magazines – effectively blocking an Abu Dhabi-led takeover of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

The commitment was recently set out in the House of Lords in an amendment to the third reading of the Digital Markets Bill, currently making its way through Parliament. This will, however, have no impact on those titles owned or partly owned by people linked to foreign states.

Back to GB News. Writing in the magazine Gavin Esler former BBC correspondent penned an article ‘GB spews’ subtitled ‘What I learned watching Britain’s most ghastly television news channel—so you don’t have to’. The article at resulted from a request by the editor to watch a television news channel across the month of February and report on its content, Esler thought: “how hard could that be? The idea of watching GB News, however, had never previously occurred to me, nor to most British people. Viewership appeared to hit a record of one million at once for the channel’s 2024 new year’s coverage, until Barb Audiences—the organisation calculating the figures—corrected the number, to an average of just 33,000”.

Esler struggled to find real news content, then on 23 February “…. something astonishing happened. There was news on GB News. And it was real. Brexit supporter, GB News presenter and former deputy chair of the Conservative party Lee Anderson appeared and attacked London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, who happens to be Muslim: “He’s given our capital city away to his mates. I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan, and they’ve got control of London and they’ve got control of Starmer as well.” Anderson was subsequently repeatedly challenged to apologise for his comments—Khan called them “Islamophobic, anti-Muslim and racist” and said they poured “fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred.” Anderson had the whip withdrawn, with Sunak saying he was “wrong” but declining to say whether he was also Islamophobic.

“Around this time, the charity Hope not Hate (which campaigns against racism and fascism.) published an investigation reporting that Paul Marshall, the founder of news and commentary website UnHerd and co-owner of what it called the “right-wing channel GB News”, had used his X account in a way that suggests ‘he holds a deeply disturbing view of modern Britain.’

“The holding company that owns GB News is called All Perspectives Ltd. It has two major shareholders: Legatum Ltd and Sir Paul, who own 41.2 per cent of the company each. Marshall’s fortune is put at an estimated £800m from his career as a hedge fund manager. He does not post on X much. He does, however, retweet and “like” what Hope not Hate described as “notorious hate accounts such as the Britain First deputy leader Ashlea Simon, American anti-Muslim campaigner Amy Mek and the shady Italian anti-migration account Radio Genoa.”

“Marshall, who is also bidding for ownership of the Telegraph and the Spectator, ‘has repeatedly liked and retweeted extremist content from an array of far-right and conspiracy theorist accounts,’ the charity found. A representative for Marshall issued a statement noting that “as most X/Twitter users know, it can be a fountain of ideas, but some of it is of uncertain quality and all his posts have now been deleted to avoid any further misunderstanding.” What was “misunderstood” was not explained, but if the head honcho likes and retweets views like this, then the cast of eccentrics and Looney Tunes characters given airtime on his channel begins to make more sense….”

Needless to say other rich and right wing bidders are waiting in the wings. Just wonder which of the unsavoury bunch the Tory party leadership would prefer? Depends which wing of the party you are in, I guess. Watch out for developments.