Paul Allen’s Charter Communications announced it will sell some of its cable systems to Atlantic Broadband for nearly $765 million in cash as the troubled cable operator continues to try to reduce its debt load. The systems, located in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York and West Virginia, serve about 235,000 customers. Charter said it expects to close the deal by the first half of 2004. Charter CEO Carl Vogel said the systems that Charter is selling are “geographically nonstrategic.” Charter’s debt load at the end of the second quarter was around $19 billion.
Sagansky Joins Scripps Board
Fresh on the heels of his departure as vice chairman of Paxson Communications, Jeff Sagansky was elected to the board of E.W. Scripps, the media company has announced. Mr. Sagansky was elected Aug. 29 as part of an effort by Cincinnati-based Scripps to increase the size of its board to 12 from 11. In stepping down from Paxson, Mr. Sagansky, former president of CBS Entertainment, said he wanted to explore new opportunities in the broadcast industry. Scripps owns 10 television stations as well as cable channels Home & Garden Television, Food Network and DIY-Do It Yourself Network.
Discovery Acquires United Learning
Discovery Communications has acquired United Learning, a privately held producer and distributor of audiovisual educational products and services, to bolster Discovery’s portfolio of education-related media offerings for schools. Terms were not disclosed. The acquisition of Evanston, Ill.-based United Learning will bolster Discovery Channel School, a Discovery unit that supplies educational content to U.S. classrooms based on content from Discovery Networks programming. United Learning’s focus is in prevention education focusing on youth violence and drug abuse.
9 Million-Plus Subs for DISH Network
EchoStar Communications last week said its DISH Network’s subscriber count has passed the 9 million mark. The progress comes as Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar introduces a new satellite receiver that doubles as a digital video recorder. DISH Network’s main rival, DirecTV, boasts 11.56 million subscribers.