Dyke stake kicks storm

Beeb topper's ATG stock may create conflict of interest

LONDON — BBC director general Greg Dyke has come under fire for owning a £1 million ($1.38 million) stake in Ambassador Theatre Group, which has links with ITV broadcaster Carlton Communications.

Carlton, one of the BBC’s main commercial rivals, has taken a 7% stake in ATG, the U.K.’s second-largest theater group and owner of 18 or so theaters. Dyke bought a 3.67% stake in ATG last year.

Carlton and ATG are also about to announce a joint venture to acquire and invest in stage, TV, film and new-media projects. Carlton will develop product for TV and broadband, leaving ATG to look after stage and film.

News of Dyke’s investment has garnered fresh criticism over a conflict of interest. Soon after stepping up to the BBC’s top job in 2000, Dyke was pressured into selling his $8.3 million stake in Granada, another big ITV company.

Rupert Gavin, chief exec of BBC Worldwide, is a non-executive director of ATG, but has a much smaller personal stake.