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Weekly Digest: Acquisitions, Evacuations, and Bans

Welcome to The Fix’s weekly news digest! Every week, we bring you important news stories from the world of media – and try to put them in a wider context.

German publisher Axel Springer announced it would acquire Politico, a US political news outlet – at over $1 billion, according to press reports. The deal, which also includes tech news website Protocol, is planned to close by the end of 2021.

It’s the largest acquisition in Axel Springer’s history, making the publisher increasingly global. Axel Springer already owns a 50% share of Politico Europe, and previously it acquired the American business news outlet Business Insider (which in turn owns a majority stake in the newsletter platform Morning Brew).

As The Fix’s Olaf Deininger puts it, “Axel Springer becomes a global player overnight” with this deal. As the publisher’s CEO Mathias Döpfner noted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, “Our ambition is to become the leading digital publisher in the democratic world.”

More from The Fix: Axel Springer becomes a global player overnight 

As evacuation from Afghanistan in the wake of the country’s capture by the Taliban continues, over 200 Afghan journalists have been granted the right to come to the United Kingdom after an appeal by leading UK media organisations.

According to The Guardian, the foreign secretary has agreed to issue visa waivers to the journalists who worked with the British media “after officials said the government recognised the risks they took in pursuit of media freedom and the defence of human rights through their work,” providing them with a chance to resettle in the UK.

According to a Friday report, overall over 10,000 people would be evacuated from Afghanistan under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy “to help those who had worked with UK forces or other organisations,” with some 800-1,100 of those eligible staying behind in the country.

The Ukrainian government banned Strana.ua, a popular pro-Russian news outlet, in connection with the sanctions imposed on its chief editor Ihor Hushva.

Hushva has been accused by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council of disseminating “pro-Russian propaganda” and sanctioned along with a number of other pro-Russian entrepreneurs and media managers, including bloggers and political activists Anatoliy Shariy and Olga Shariy.

In response, Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, “expressed her concern regarding [the] practice of applying sanctions that negatively affect the work of media outlets and journalists.” Strana.ua continued working under a new domain, as well as on social media.

Russia continued the practice of labeling top media outlets as “foreign agents” with the latest addition of TV Rain (Dozhd), one of the largest independent TV channels in the country.

As Reuters notes, “TV Rain operates online, behind a pay wall, and has long been a platform where Kremlin critics who are unable to get on state TV have been able to express their views,” having gained prominence during the 2011—2012 protests.

As New York Times media columnist Ben Smith notes in a recent column, the government has tried to stop “the unlikely flowering in Russian online journalism over the past year” by “designating its highest-impact critics as ‘undesirable,’ or as foreign agents, or both – forcing media shutdowns and difficulties in operation.

More from The Fix: Meduza counters Russian authorities’ “foreign agent” attack with appeal to readers 

Photo by Fabio Testa on Unsplash

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