People/Biz

U.S. Department of Justice clears Discovery-Scripps deal

Discovery Communications has cleared another regulatory hurdle in its planned acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive. The Silver Spring-based global network group announced this morning (Feb. 27) that it had received approval ...
February 27, 2018

Discovery Communications has cleared another regulatory hurdle in its planned acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive.

The Silver Spring-based global network group announced this morning (Feb. 27) that it had received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for US$14.6 billion deal.

“We are pleased to have passed this significant regulatory milestone on our path to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive,” said David Zaslav (pictured, at MIPCOM 2017), president and CEO, Discovery, in a statement. “The conclusion of the Department of Justice’s investigation is an integral step toward closing our transaction. We look forward to combining these two great companies to the benefit of our enthusiast audiences around the world.”

Discovery announced in July 2017 that it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire Scripps Networks in a cash-and-stock transaction that would see the company take over Scripps’ brands, including HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country, as well as TVN, UKTV, Asian Food Channel and Fine Living Network. Discovery’s brands include Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport.

In November, both Discovery and Scripps shareholders greenlit the proposal, while the European Commission cleared the acquisition earlier this month on the condition that Discovery will offer third party distributors the right, on a non-exclusive and unbundled basis, to distribute TVN21 and/or TVN24 BiS in Poland.

Earlier this year, Discovery also announced plans to move its headquarters from Silver Spring, Maryland to New York City. Contingent on the closing of the acquisition, the company will establish a national operations headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter 2018, and remains subject to completion of review in Ireland and other customary closing conditions.

The DOJ’s approval coincided with the release of Discovery’s full year and fourth-quarter results.

The U.S. cable network group’s revenue rose to $1.86-billion from $1.67-billion from the previous quarter — an 11% increase.

The company also posted a fourth-quarter loss of $1.14 billion which was impacted by a $1.32 billion after-tax goodwill impairment charge for the company’s European unit and a charge of $59 million related to the Scripps acquistion.

Zaslav, in a statement with the financials, noted that 2017 was a “historic year” for Discovery.

“We took significant steps to position ourselves for success in a changing industry, while driving growth from our traditional linear business and accelerating our investments in new growth areas like digital and mobile in an effort to reach superfans on every screen,” he said. “Solid global advertising and distribution revenue growth helped us achieve our 2017 strategic and financial objectives. Additionally, we remain excited by the prospects for a combined Discovery and Scripps Networks.”

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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