No one expects the UK government to block former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev's takeover of the Evening Standard, which was announced today.
But the Government has in the past intervened to stop an individual taking over newspapers. David Sullivan, the LSE * educated pornography publisher, who launched the Sunday Sport and Daily Sport was prevented in 1990 from taking a majority stake in the Bristol Evening Post and its sister title, the Western Daily Press.
The Monopolies and Mergers Commission (Competition Commission) ruled that Sullivan's acquisition of the Bristol newspapers would not be in the public interest. Interestingly, it was not his porn background that prevented the deal going head so much as a disastrous link up with the Daily Star and Express Newspapers.
The Commission ruled: "The evidence from Mr Sullivan's previous involvement with the Daily Star suggests that his proposed acquisition could well impair the ability of BEP newspapers to hold readers and advertisers and thus their profitability."
Sullivan, who was once described as "a munchkin porn baron,"claimed: "I've probably had the worst press in the world. People think if you are in the sex business you are not a good businessman. Well, I am. I'm good at what I do.”
You can read the Commission's ruling online.
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