BSkyB must cut its stake in rival ITV, government says


BSkyB must cut its stake in rival ITV, government says
British Sky Broadcasting (Sky) has been told by the government that it must decrease its shareholder stake in ITV.

Sky's acquisition of a 17.9 per cent share in ITV was found to be detrimental to the public interest in virtue of its impact on competition.

Business secretary John Hutton decided that the transaction would result in a "substantial lessening of competition within the UK market for all television".

The final decision stated that it would impose the remedies recommended by the Competition Commission after a "detailed investigation".

The decision requires Sky, owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch, to divest itself of shares in ITV to a level below 7.5 per cent.

"ITV warmly welcomes the secretary of state's decision to require BSkyB to divest its shareholding… We believe this decision is in the best interests of the overwhelming majority of our shareholders," ITV said in an official statement.

Sky also acknowledged the decision: "BSkyB Group plc notes today's announcement by the secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform in respect of Sky's minority shareholding in ITV plc.

"The company will give careful consideration to the announcement and confirm any further steps in due course," the broadcaster said.

Shares in ITV have risen 2.36 per cent in the day's early trading to 73.70p after the decision was announced. Sky's share price has risen a little over half a percentage point to 534p.

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