Following on the heels of Paxson Communications’ $75 million purchase in June of The Travel Channel, and their own failed attempt over a year ago, the ever-expanding Discovery Communications International empire has bought controlling interest in The Travel Channel and its on-line network. Pending approval by the Federal Trade Commission, the deal is expected to close by mid- to late-October.
The agreement, announced September 10, is reportedly worth US$20 million in cash and will grant DCI 70% interest in the channel, as well as control of all programming, sales and affiliate operations. Paxson will retain the remaining 30%. The two services will be managing partners.
President of Discovery Networks, Jonathan Rodgers, who will be in charge of programming, said, ‘Sales will be the area in which there is a great deal of emphasis on making and keeping the channel profitable.’
The Travel Channel, launched in 1992, and for sale on-and-off for about 18 months prior to the deal, was without an interim president at press time.
DCI spokesperson Judith McReynolds said, ‘It’s premature to discuss programming impact. We are evaluating what kinds of changes we will make,’ adding that there is ‘a lot of synergy with respect to programming at both networks.’ McHale made reference to leveraging the deal ‘not only with our other business systems, but also with our other programming commitments, and programming and promotional assistance.’
The Travel Channel reaches 20.8 million subscribers (according to Neilsen), has 1,300 affiliates across the United States. Series include Lonely Planet and Rough Guide.
Under the Discovery Networks umbrella in the U.S. are The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and Animal Planet, with a combined subscribership of over 150 million, as well as four digital services including Discovery Travel & Living.