Viacom and Discovery in Mix to Purchase Scripps (Report)

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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

If Viacom buys Scripps, it would mark new CEO Bob Bakish's first major bet.

The Scripps family, which owns 92 percent of the voting shares of Scripps Networks Interactive, is discussing possibly selling the company to either Viacom or Discovery Communications, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Investors have been expecting more consolidation in the TV industry after Lionsgate merged with Starz and Sinclair Broadcast agreed to buy Tribune Media, and Scripps has been seen as a ripe acquisition target of late.

Scripps, the parent of TV channels like Great American Country, Food Network and HGTV, would fit nicely with Viacom, where the assets include MTV, Nickelodeon and BET, though probably even better with Discovery, which includes its namesake network along with Animal Planet, OWN and TLC.

Even though investors are expecting and even hoping for more consolidation amid competition from Netflix and other streamers, shares of Viacom were falling 3 percent on the news while Discovery shares were off 2 percent, indicating that Wall Street might view the $10.6 billion Scripps market cap as rich.

If Viacom purchases Scripps, it would mark new CEO Bob Bakish's first major bet. Viacom's market cap is at $14.3 billion, while Discovery's is at $15.2 billion.

Scripps and Discovery were close to a merger deal three years ago, but talks fell apart.

Scripps, Discovery and Viacom were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

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