E.W. Scripps may abandon the television station business. Ken Lowe, Scripps CEO, told investment analysts that operating television stations is "not something we’re necessarily wed to long-term" and that a further loosening of federal ownership restrictions might create an opportunity to get out of the business.
Scripps currently owns 10 television stations across the country, including ABC affiliates WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, WEWS in Cleveland, and WXYZ in Detroit. Lowe’s comments were published in the Cincinnati Post, a Scripps-owned newspaper.
Lowe, at a conference in Phoenix, said a further loosening of FCC rules “might make it a more opportunistic time to just take a real look at TV stations and the future of the company. But we’re not quite there.”
Scripps has been shifting its focus from newspapers and broadcasting to the cable industry and more recently to online broadband businesses such as Shopzilla.com, which it bought last year for about $564 million. Lowe said Scripps uses the TV stations to enhance the rest of its businesses, including its national cable networks, such as HGTV and the Food Network, and Shopzilla.
New media has provided virtually all of Scripps’ rapid revenue and profit growth in recent years, while results in its newspaper and broadcast operations have been nearly flat or falling. In the first nine months of 2005, Scripps television stations and newspapers accounted for 12 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of its total profits, down from 20 percent and 56 percent in 2002.