BSkyB can challenge on ITV sale

Waaaay back in November 2006 BSkyB spent a spectacular £940m to buy up a 17.9% stake in UK commercial network ITV. The deal was done largely – and successfully – to thwart Sky’s arch-rival Virgin Media and its own ambitions to acquire a major stake in ITV. Ever since there’s been a game of legal ping-pong between assorted British regulators and BSkyB.

The regulators have argued that BSkyB’s presence in ITV is anti-competitive, not fair, not cricket, a bit smelly, and generally something that was never going to be given to a British broadcaster that was – at the time – headed by Rupert Murdoch.

Sky has tenaciously argued its corner with the Competition Commission, and assorted appeal tribunals, and on March 20 was granted Leave to Appeal directly to the High Court. Lord Justice Carnwath ruled today that "the issues raised by the proposed appeal are arguable and of some general importance" and so Sky has been granted its day in court.

BSkyB said only that it “welcomed the decision”. The hearing will be some months off, during which time ITV’s share price is not likely to recover from their current miserable 21p. When Sky bought into ITV they stood at 135p.