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Discovery Buys Scripps for $11.9 Billion, Creating Cable Giant

  • Combined company will own cable channels Animal Planet, HGTV
  • Deal could give Discovery more leverage in distribution deals

Discovery Communications Inc. agreed to buy Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. for $11.9 billion in a bet that uniting ownership of cable channels like Animal Planet and HGTV will help the company adapt to the changing television landscape.

Discovery, one of billionaire John Malone’s key holdings, will acquire Scripps for about $90 a share and assume long-term debt of $2.7 billion, bringing the total price of the equity value plus liabilities to $14.6 billion, according to a statement Monday. The price represents a 34 percent premium over Scripps’ closing price of $67.02 on July 18, the day before news of the companies’ talks became known.

Discovery, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, is grappling with shrinking audiences at some U.S. channels -- including the Discovery channel and Animal Planet -- as consumers drop cable subscriptions and get more entertainment online from Netflix and others. The deal combines two companies that specialize in so-called unscripted programming, focused on real-life adventures, travel, wildlife and home. With Scripps, Discovery gets the home-improvement channel HGTV, where hits...