Friday newspaper round-up: BBC licence fee, Gazprom, Amazon, Apple, inflation

by | Apr 29, 2022

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Ministers have formally signalled the death of the licence fee after deciding to overhaul the BBC’s 100-year-old funding model. In the first big update to British broadcasting laws for nearly 20 years, the government said it would set out a timetable for a review of the licence fee over the coming months, during which alternatives would be considered. – The Times
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to take immediate disciplinary action against the Conservative MP accused of watching pornography in the House of Commons. The chief whip issued a statement on Wednesday suggesting the matter should be referred to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), which deals with sexual harassment and other disciplinary matters. But senior Tories questioned why he had not taken action directly against the MP, whose alleged behaviour was witnessed by two female colleagues in recent months. – Guardian

The Kremlin has earned a record profit from its state-owned energy company Gazprom as Britain scrambles to free itself from foreign gas supplies amid fears the West could be cut off. Gazprom profits surged to two trillion roubles (£22bn) in 2021, the company announced on Thursday, with its finances expected to be buoyed again this year as it cashes in on sharply higher gas prices for its European customers following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Telegraph

Amazon rattled Wall Street last night by unexpectedly announcing its first quarterly loss since 2015 and forecasting a slowdown in growth as people curtail their online spending in the face of rampant inflation. Shares in the world’s largest retailer dropped by almost 12 per cent in after-hours trading after it reported its smallest rise in sales in two decades. – The Times

Some of Britain’s biggest seaports are considering legal action against the government to recover the costs of building border control posts they fear will never be used, after confirmation that post-Brexit import checks will be delayed for a fourth time. Physical checks on fresh food and plants from the EU were due to begin in July but have been pushed back to the end of 2023, the Brexit opportunities minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, confirmed in a written statement published on Thursday. Instead, he announced plans to digitise all checks and paperwork at the border, with a new strategy published in the autumn. – Guardian

City insurers are poised to pour billions of pounds into Britain’s energy security following a post-Brexit overhaul of EU rules. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, launched a consultation on Thursday aimed at radically changing the Solvency II rulebook governing British insurers. The reforms will allow FTSE 100 insurance giants such as Aviva, Legal & General and Phoenix to collectively plough more than £80bn into the economy, including into assets such as green energy infrastructure. – Telegraph

Three of Britain’s biggest consumer businesses yesterday added to the gloom surrounding the prospects for inflation this year. Simon Roberts, chief executive of J Sainsbury, said that “customers are watching every penny and every pound” as he warned that the supermarket would make lower profits. – The Times

Apple on Thursday reported strong quarterly results despite supply shortages, but warned that its growth slowdown is likely to deepen. The company said it’s still struggling to get enough chips to meet demand and is contending with Covid-related shutdowns at factories in China that make iPhones and other products. Although initial results for the January-March period topped analysts’ projections, the good news was quickly eclipsed when management warned of trouble ahead during a conference call. – Guardian

Britain is sending 8,000 troops to Eastern Europe in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War. Tanks, artillery guns, armoured assault vehicles and aircraft are also being sent to bolster Nato forces, in what Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, described as a “show of solidarity and strength”. – Telegraph

One of the country’s most senior civil servants has put himself at odds with the Government over working from home by issuing a public statement in support of the beleaguered head of the Passport Office. Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, said that where the Passport Office’s director-general worked had “precisely zero bearing” on the crisis engulfing her organisation. – Telegraph

The premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been arrested in a sting operation in Miami on charges of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and money laundering. The BVI governor, John Rankin, confirmed in a statement that Andrew Fahie had been arrested on Thursday morning, saying: “I realise this will be shocking news for people in the territory. And I would call for calm at this time.” – Guardian

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