Scripps to reorganize television production operations

Fri, December 05, 1997 by Rich Boehne

CINCINNATI, Ohio - The E.W. Scripps Company today announced plans to reorganize its television production operations, focusing the company’s future efforts on non-fiction programming.As a result, Scripps has decided to seek a buyer for its subsidiary, Scripps Howard Productions, which creates primarily fiction programming for the major broadcast networks. Scripps has retained the investment banking firm of UBS Securities LLC to advise it on the sale. UBS Securities is a subsidiary of Union Bank of Switzerland.Launched in late 1993, Santa Monica-based Scripps Howard Productions has a library of 20 hours of programming, more than 20 additional hours of original network programming in script development and two network movie franchises.Scripps Howard Productions is headed by former network executive David Percelay. It has produced original movies-for-television and miniseries for the three major broadcast networks, including the highly acclaimed, top-rated "Shadow of a Doubt," starring, co-written and directed by Brian Dennehy. Michele Brustin is the executive producer of all fiction programming produced since the company’s inception and is responsible for all fiction projects currently in development at the networks and at HBO. Scripps Howard Productions is also well known for producing top-rated primetime network news and documentary specials, including "Tycoon" and "Why Can’t We Live Together," both for NBC News and reported by Tom Brokaw. Scripps Howard Productions is the only independent production company ever permitted by a major broadcast network to produce and own a primetime news special. Craig Leake is the executive producer of all the company’s non-fiction programming."Scripps Howard Productions has achieved its mission - to become a supplier of high quality programming for the major broadcast networks," said William R. Burleigh, Scripps’ president and CEO. "It has a talented staff and an impressive slate of upcoming projects. However, our strategy going forward will see us concentrate our production efforts on non-fiction programming for targeted audiences."Scripps will continue to operate - and intends to expand - Cinetel Productions, based in Knoxville, Tenn., which will adopt the Scripps Howard Productions name once a sale is completed. Cinetel, one of the nation’s largest producers of non-fiction cable programming, is expanding into broadcast television. Scripps also operates two of the fastest-growing cable networks: Home & Garden Television and the Food Network.Scripps Howard Productions is currently in production in Ireland and Paris on "The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax" for CBS in association with Angela Lansbury’s Corymore Productions. The project is intended as the first in a series of movies starring Ms. Lansbury to be produced in conjunction with Corymore, according to executives at both companies."We anticipate that 1998 will be a year of record-breaking production for Scripps Howard Productions, and we have concluded that the best way to realize the full value of our film library and programming capabilities, and to achieve our goals in series programming, is a merger with or sale to a strategic partner," said David Percelay, president and CEO of Scripps Howard Productions.Scripps and UBS Securities will explore ways in which Scripps Howard Productions can continue to grow, including the possibility of merging its expanding film library and development slate with a studio or production company that has a strong distribution and international sales arm.The E.W. Scripps Company also operates 20 daily newspapers, nine network-affiliated television stations and United Media, a worldwide syndicator and licensor of news features and comics.