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BSkyB has been told to sell off most of its stake in rival broadcaster ITV.

John Hutton, secretary of state for business and enterprise, has told BSkyB to reduce its stake in ITV from 17.9 per cent to below 7.5 per cent.

Hutton is following the advice of the Competition Commission which said in December that the cross-ownership would inevitably reduce competition between the two.

Sky should sell off the stake - not to someone associated with Sky - and not seek to buy more shares or get a seat on the board.

No timetable was released for the proposed sale which is likely to cost Sky dear because ITV's share price has fallen some 30 per cent since November 2006. The government decided not to release the timetable for the sale after a request from Sky. ITV argued the opposite - that the timetable should be public - Hutton decided not to release the information. ®

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