Discovery completes $12-billion takeover of Scripps Networks' Food, HGTV and Travel channels

Meg James, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Discovery Communications on Tuesday completed its merger with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. and assumed control of the Scripps television channels HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel.

The nearly $12-billion purchase was designed to give Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery more leverage with pay-TV operators such as DirecTV and Charter Communications' Spectrum. It also should boost Discovery's appeal among women who consider HGTV and Food Network must-have channels. Discovery's channels primarily draw men.

"We are adding brands that people love and are passionate about," said David Zaslav, Discovery's chief executive.

The merger, which was first unveiled last July, comes amid increasing consolidation and competition. Netflix, and Apple Inc. are spending billions of dollars to challenge traditional broadcasters by creating high-quality scripted shows. But Discovery has long churned out unscripted fare -- shows about animals, nature and survival. Its legacy channels include Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC and ID.

"We are different from everyone else, and that gives us an advantage," Zaslav said.

The company hopes to grow revenues, in part, by distributing the Scripps networks overseas. Discovery has had a strong international presence.

Discovery dropped the word "communications" from its name and will now be known as Discovery Inc. It also plans to relocate its headquarters to New York this year but keep some operations in Tennessee and Maryland.

Kenneth W. Lowe, the former chairman and chief executive of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Scripps Networks Interactive joins Discovery's board of directors.

Scripps shareholders will receive about $90 a share -- $65.82 a share in cash and 1.0584 a share in Series C common shares of Discovery stock. Discovery shares closed trading Tuesday down 12 cents at $24.42.

Last week, Discovery announced that TLC President and General Manager Nancy Daniels had been elevated to oversee Discovery Channel and the Science Channel as chief brand officer. Kathleen Finch, who was in charge of programming at Scripps, will run HGTV, Food Network, ID, TLC, Travel Channel and DIY Network.

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