RTL, investor eye ITV stake

European broadcaster RTL and Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul, are understood to have expressed an interest in buying BSkyB's controversial 17.9% stake in ITV, Britain's biggest commercial television company, a Sunday Telegraph report said.

Sky, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is the largest shareholder, has been ordered by Ministers to sell its holding in ITV, which it acquired in 2006 to stop a rival pay TV operator Virgin Media acquiring it.

ITV's share price has fallen by over 40% since Sky paid £940 million (€1.17 billion) for its stake, and the satellite broadcaster is hoping to avoid having to sell on the open market at a loss.

Haim Saban, who made his first fortune with the children's programme Power Rangers, has a history of close ties with Murdoch's media empire.

He folded his television production company Saban Entertainment into Murdoch's Fox Family Worldwide, a series of channels which they sold in 2001 for €3.18 billion (US$5.1 billion) to The Walt Disney Company.

Saban used the proceeds to found a media investment company, Saban Capital Group. Its current portfolio includes Univision Communications, the largest Spanish language media company in the US, and Israel's former state-owned telecoms group Bezeq.