MPs want BSkyB-ITV deal blocked


LONDON -- Members of Parliament have called on trade secretary Alistair Darling to block BSkyB's acquisition of a 17.9% stake in commercial broadcaster ITV.

The deal, which is currently being reviewed by media regulator Ofcom, took the media industry by surprise in November. Sky's stealth raid is widely thought to have derailed Virgin NTL's merger talks with ITV.

A cross-party alliance of MPs tabled a motion Tuesday asking Darling to order a public interest inquiry into the deal and to refer it to competition body the Office of Fair Trading.

"There are concerns on all sides of parliament that BSkyB, as the largest shareholder in ITV, would have real conflicts of interest concerning sports rights, the ITV news contract and the development of Freeview and Freesat," the parliamentary motion reads.

Media regulator Ofcom has completed its call for submissions over the deal and will make its report within the next few weeks. It is investigating whether the deal constitutes a "material change in control" of ITV.