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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 08:15 GMT
Murdoch's 'long-term' ITV plans
BSkyB boss James Murdoch
BSkyB boss James Murdoch says he is committed long term to ITV

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB has stressed its long-term commitment to ITV, following its recent purchase of a 18% stake in the firm for 940m.

Critics, including Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, claimed the purchase was designed to block a proposed takeover of ITV by cable firm NTL.

But BSkyB boss James Murdoch said the deal was based on "long-term value".

He also said it was "premature" to know what Michael Grade, who left the BBC to join ITV recently, would do in the job.

'Strong leadership'

Mr Grade's appointment as executive chairman came after ITV had been without a chief executive for several months and was suffering falling advertising revenues.

When asked whether Mr Grade would "fix" ITV's programming and business, Mr Murdoch told the BBC that it was too early to say what he would do but that he was keen for strong leadership at the top of ITV.

Sir Richard Branson, who became NTL's largest shareholder after its merger with Virgin Mobile, claimed BSkyB's interest in ITV was a "threat to democracy".

But Mr Murdoch stressed his firm had long been looking at ITV as an investment opportunity.

Mr Murdoch denied BSkyB had overpaid for its stake in ITV and insisted that it had no plans to make a full bid for the business.

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