Discovery moving ops HQ to Scripps in Knoxville

Discovery Communications is buying Knoxville-based Scripps Networks Interactive, both companies announced Monday. The $14.6 billion purchase is expected to close in early 2018. Submitted by Discovery Communications

Instead of closing the Knoxville campus of Scripps Networks Interactive, Discovery Communications will move its national operations headquarters to Knoxville, the company announced Tuesday.

At the end of August, Scripps and Maryland-based Discovery announced that Discovery would buy Scripps in a cash-and-stock deal worth $14.6 billion. The deal includes Discovery’s assumption of Scripps’ $2.7 billion debt, and is expected to close in early 2018.

Scripps’ roughly 1,000 Knoxville employees have been uncertain how the sale would affect their jobs. While the fate of individual jobs remains unknown, Discovery plans to keep Scripps operations here and expand. 

Scripps CEO Ken Lowe informed employees Tuesday afternoon by letter.

“In making these decisions, David (Zaslav, Discovery president and CEO) and his team have comprehensively evaluated the capabilities and advantages of all of their locations, and decided that our Knoxville campus has the amenities and benefits ideal for a base for their U.S. business,” Lowe wrote. “Factors that have been influential in this decision include an attractive cost of living, enviable facilities, strong operational capabilities, and of course the amazing Scripps Networks employees. It’s David’s belief that this move will help ensure Discovery can run its business most efficiently in the future, once the two companies are combined.”

Discovery’s move to Knoxville will likely be sweetened with state incentives, according to Jennifer McEachern, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.

”ECD has offered an incentives package, but the details of the package will not be made public until the project has been contracted,” she said in an email.

Discovery announced the Scripps news in conjunction with several other moves. Maryland-based Discovery will close its Silver Spring head office and move its global headquarters to a new building in New York City by late 2019. That will affect about 1,300 workers. The company does plan to maintain a network hub and some government relations functions in Maryland.

Discovery’s media distribution facility in Sterling, Virginia, will become a global technology center, but the company also plans to have a technology footprint in Knoxville and several international locations.

“Featuring a compelling environment and infrastructure, Knoxville is a self-contained campus with many amenities and benefits for a National Operations Headquarters, including a low cost of living, and built-in facilities and operational capabilities,” a Discovery news release said. “It will continue to house the major Scripps brands and creative digital teams along with corporate functions.”

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