ITV says BSkyB should sell stake

Company points to competition concerns

Commercial broadcaster ITV has said that BSkyB, its biggest single stockholder, should be forced to sell the 17.9% stake it bought a year ago for $1.8 billion.

In evidence to the U.K.’s Competition Commission, ITV said any other remedy designed to allay competition concerns, such as BSkyB’s proposal that 3.9% of the stock be put in a trust, would be inadequate.

ITV highlighted several “strategic investments,” including the soon-to-be-launched Freesat service (a joint venture with the BBC) and plans to buy independent production shingles, which would put it in direct competition with the Rupert Murdoch-backed paybox.

In a provisional ruling last month, the commission said BSkyB’s stake in ITV would influence “key strategic decisions” made by ITV.

The commission will report in December to the government, which will then decide whether BSkyB should give up the stake — an outcome many say looks increasingly likely.

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