BSkyB to Fight ITV Ruling

In a move that came as no surprise to satellite industry observers on the other side of the pond, British Sky Broadcasting confirmed that it will challenge conclusions made by the U.K. Competition Commission concerning its controversial investment in ITV.

In that decision, the regulator said BSkyB must dispose a majority of its 17.9 percent shareholding in ITV. Sky acquired the stake in the U.K. broadcaster in November 2006.

In its January decision, the Competition Commission said that the ITV transaction would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competition arising from a loss of rivalry between ITV and BSkyB in the all-TV market. This may be expected to result in a reduction in the quality of the offer, a reduction in innovation, or an increase in the price of audiovisual services in the all-TV market."

The commission also said BSkyB could influence ITV's investment in high-def as well as the broadcaster's strategy in relation to content production and commissioning.

BSkyB said it would file an application with the Competition Appeal Tribunal today concerning its move. That body has the power to eliminate part or all of the previous findings and send the case back to the Competition Commission for further consideration.

News Corp. has a controlling stake in BSkyB.

Meanwhile, News Corp. said Thursday that it increased its stake in German pay-TV operator Premiere AG to nearly 20 percent. In addition to Premiere and BSkyB, the media giant also controls satellite-based service Sky Italia.