Exclusive: Newspaper promised six commercial giants “money-can’t-buy” news coverage in a lucrative deal, leaving millions of Londoners unaware of who’s paying for their news.
London’s Evening Standard newspaper, edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, has agreed a £3 million deal with six leading commercial companies, including Google and Uber, promising them “money-can’t-buy” positive news and “favourable” comment coverage, openDemocracy can reveal.
The project, called London 2020, is being directed by Osborne. It effectively sweeps away the conventional ethical divide between news and advertising inside the Standard – and is set to include “favourable” news coverage of the firms involved, with readers unable to differentiate between "news" that is paid-for and other commercially-branded content.
Leading companies, most operating global businesses, were given detailed sales presentations by Evening Standard executives at the newspaper’s west London offices in an effort to sign them up to the lucrative deal.
Among those that have paid half a million pounds each to be involved are international minicab-app firm Uber, which is facing an imminent court appeal against the decision to cancel its licence to operate in London.
The Evening Standard has previously come under fire for not declaring Osborne’s £650,000-a-year part time job with the fund managers BlackRock, who hold a £500m stake in Uber.
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