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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 23:38 GMT
BSkyB to hear ITV stake verdict
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BSkyB says the stake has not given it influence over ITV's strategy
BSkyB is expected to learn on Thursday whether it will face sanctions over its controversial purchase of a 17.9% stake in rival broadcaster ITV.

The Competition Commission handed the findings of its investigation into the issue to ministers on Friday and they have 30 days to comment on the report.

Business Secretary John Hutton must decide what action, if any, should be taken in the light of its conclusions.

The watchdog provisionally concluded that the stake harmed competition.

'Strategic influence'

Ministers could force BSkyB to reduce its stake in ITV or sell it altogether if they conclude the current arrangement is anti-competitive.

In its initial report, Commission found that the BSkyB's interest in ITV operated against the public interest since it could enable BSkyB "to influence ITV's key strategic decisions".

BSkyB maintains the stake, bought for 940m in 2006, gives it no influence over ITV and that it acquired it purely because the business was undervalued.

The move was highly controversial because it came at a time when cable operator Virgin Media was seeking a possible merger with ITV.

Virgin Media accused BSkyB of effectively blocking the deal and stifling competition, something which BSkyB has always denied.

ITV shares have fallen a third since BSkyB bought the stake.

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