The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has announced that the Secretary of State has, for the first time, issued a public interest intervention notice under section 42 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in relation to the acquisition by British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB) of a 17.9% stake in ITV plc. The Secretary of State therefore requires the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to report to him on the competition effects of the transaction and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to report on whether the transaction raises public interest concerns about media plurality.

Background

On 17 November 2006, BSkyB acquired 17.9% of the shareholding of ITV. On 21 November 2006, Ofcom announced that it had asked ITV and BSkyB to comment on whether BSkyB's acquisition represents a change of control, in accordance with the provisions of the Communications Act 2003, of one or more of the licences held by ITV. The OFT also began consideration of whether the transaction could give rise to a relevant merger situation which it would have jurisdiction to investigate under the Enterprise Act 2002. On 12 January 2007, the OFT announced that it considers that a relevant merger situation has been created since BSkyB and ITV may have come under common control and the Enterprise Act turnover test is satisfied. The OFT, therefore, sought public views on whether, if there is a relevant merger situation, this may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition.