Scripps Networks Interactive has announced that it will be entering a joint venture with Cox Communications Inc. that will give it a controlling interest in The Travel Channel. Upon completion of the deal, Scripps will control 65% of the network, while Cox will retain 35% ownership. The deal is expected to be completed by or before January 2010. ‘Combining the Travel Channel with Food Network and HGTV will make our fast-growing, young company the undisputed global leader in lifestyle programming,’ said Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive. ‘This collection of popular lifestyle networks will be in great demand worldwide and promises to create substantial long-term value for all of our stakeholders.’ The Travel Channel currently reaches about 95 million U.S. television households.
According to the terms of the J.V., Cox will contribute the Travel Channel, valued in the deal at US$975 million, and Scripps Networks Interactive will contribute $181 million in cash to the partnership. Also, the partnership will take on $878 million in third-party debt, with the deal resulting in the partnership having about $696 million in net debt. Scripps’ main rival for the channel had been News Corp. The transaction will be discussed tomorrow during a conference call regarding Scripps’ Q3 earnings.