Shares of News Corp Ltd chief Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting plunged more than seven percent on Wednesday after the Financial Times reported that BSkyB is being forced out of the bidding for digital television licenses. According to the report, Britain’s Independent Television Commission has told BskyB to drop its equity stake in a consortium with commercial broadcasters Carlton Communications Plc and Granada Group Plc, which has put in a bid for digital terrestrial television (DTT) licenses currently up for grabs. The FT says that the ITC has ruled that unless BSkyB complies, the consortium will be ruled out of the bidding on the grounds of unfair competition, due to BSkyB’s dominance in the satellite market. If the report is true, it could mean the second defeat for Murdoch in as many weeks, after American Sky Broadcasting scrapped its US satellite plans as a result of its failed acquisition of EchoStar Communications Corp (CI No 3,180). A Reuters report, however, quotes an ITC spokesperson as saying the FT story was speculation and that a decision would be made on the licenses by the end of the month. BSkyB announced earlier that Sam Chisholm, Murdoch pal and chief executive since 1990, is stepping down at the end of the year for medical reasons. Deputy managing director David Chance will also be leaving. Chisholm will be replaced by Mark Booth, chief operating officer of JSkyB, News Corp’s Japanese satellite TV venture.