Biz Briefs: Scripps Closing Shop At Home

May 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment

E.W. Scripps is shutting down the Shop At Home cable network in June after failing to find a buyer for the money-losing venture. The Shop At Home Channel, which competed with QVC and Home Shopping Network, and a companion Web site will shut down June 22, Scripps said last week in a statement. The business will keep operating through June 30 to fulfill final orders from customers. The decision by Scripps to shutter Shop At Home caps a years-long struggle by the company to find the right strategy for the channel. Shop At Home, which cost Scripps $285 million to acquire, has lost around $84 million in the four years that Scripps has controlled it. As part of the shutdown, Scripps said it expects to book an after-tax loss of up to $60 million in the second quarter, reflecting operating results, expenses related to closing the business and a partial write-down of the channel’s assets. The company’s five Shop At Home-affiliated television stations will be sold.

DirecTV to Buy Back GM Stake

DirecTV Group said last Thursday that it will spend around $265 million to buy 15.5 million shares of its common stock from pension funds operated by General Motors. According to a statement released by DirecTV, the satellite company controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. will pay $17.12 a share for 15.5 million shares held by the General Motors Special Hourly Employees Pension Trust and the General Motors Special Salaried Employees Pension Trust. That’s a 4 percent discount to Thursday’s stock-price close of $17.81. The purchases, which are expected to be completed by May 24, will bring the total that DirecTV has repurchased to $2.24 billion of its planned $3 billion stock buyback program. DirecTV has had to wait two years-since News Corp. in December 2003 bought a controlling stake in DirecTV-to buy the GM shares because GM faced a huge tax bill if a purchase was completed sooner.

Granite Sues Over WB Shutdown

Granite Broadcasting filed a lawsuit last Wednesday against CBS Corp., Warner Bros. Entertainment and the owners of The WB Network, claiming the planned shutdown of The WB hurt the company by killing a deal Granite had to sell its WB affiliates in San Francisco and Detroit. Granite had planned to sell the two stations to AM Media Holdings for $180 million, but the buyers pulled out of the deal after the announcement that The WB, along with UPN, would shut down to make way for the launch of The CW Network. Granite eventually found another buyer for the stations, but at a reduced price of $150 million. The suit, filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, names The WB, WB Communications, CBS and Warner Bros. Entertainment as defendants.