BSkyB reports half-year loss

British Sky Broadcasting Group reported a half-year loss of 112 million pounds ($219.7 million) due to its purchase of an 18% stake in independent broadcaster ITV, a stake the government has since ordered it to cut, an Associated Press report said.

BSkyB, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said it had to reduce its balance sheet by 343 million pounds ($673 million) after buying the ITV stake, the Associated Press report said.

The loss follows a 246 million pound profit in the same period last year, it said.

The company also posted a 9% drop in new television customers during the second quarter with 385,000 new customers, increasing its total number to 8.83 million, the Associated Press report said.

The company, however, invested heavily in expanding its broadband subscriber base, which grew by 28% to 1.2 million customers. The company in 2006 moved into the high speed internet market in a bid to reduce its dependence on pay-television, the report said.

The British government ordered BSkyB last week to sell off more than half its ITV stake, reducing its share ownership to 7.5%, the government's most direct attack on the spread of Murdoch's vast media business, the report further said.