Discovery and Scripps talk merger again

Not for the first time, but once again, Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive are talking about merging their broadcasting assets.

Although it is by no means certain that a deal will be consummated, the mere fact that the pair have reportedly come back to the negotiating table is indicative of a willingness to explore the possibility.  The Wall Street Journal, without naming sources, suggests that other parties may be involved in the discussions and some reports say Viacom could be interested in the Scripps assets.

Washington-based Discovery Networks and Tennessee-based Scripps were last in this situation in 2014 when talk broke down with reports that the Scripps family trusts which control 92 per cent of the company was reluctant to seal the deal.  Revenue at Scripps Networks Interactive was $3.4 billion last year.

The two outfits are broadcasting giants. Discovery is well known for its factual content, while Scripps Networks Interactive is a spin-off from the giant EW Scripps media conglomerate that owns newspapers, broadcast TV stations and radio networks and syndicates – amongst other assets – owns the copyrights to cartoon strips of Peanuts and Garfield which are distributed to newspapers around the world.

Scripps has also been expanding of late. It has launched new cable channels around the world which are heavily focused on food, lifestyle and travel.

Both Discovery and Scripps share prices rose July 18 in after hours trading on the news. Discovery rose 8.7 per cent, while Scripps rose a massive 12.5 pe cent.  Discovery has a value of some $15 billion, while Scripps is valued at around $9 billion.

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