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BSkyB-ITV Deal Faces Ofcom Probe

U.K. communications-industry regulator Ofcom will conduct a preliminary report into whether British Sky Broadcasting’s purchase of a 17.9% stake in commercial broadcaster ITV is against the public interest, AP reported.

The country’s Department of Trade and Industry ordered Ofcom to "conduct an initial investigation into the public issues that may be raised by this transaction,” according to AP. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling asked Ofcom to report back to him by April 27.

News Corp.'s British subsidiary owns a 39% stake in BSkyB, as well as The Sun and Sunday newspaper News of the World, both the largest in their markets, AP reported.

“Indeed, when Parliament debated the 2003 Communications Act, it expressly considered that plurality would be protected if Sky were to own no more than 20% of ITV," BSkyB said in a prepared statement. "It is inconceivable to suggest that, as a result of a 17.9% shareholding in ITV, Sky would be able to influence ITV's broadcasting strategy or policies, including programming or editorial decisions.”