February 6, 2018 / 3:22 PM / 8 months ago

EU clears Discovery bid for Scripps subject to conditions

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have approved Discovery Communications’ (DISCA.O) $14.6 billion (10.53 billion pounds) bid for U.S. peer Scripps Network Interactive SNI.O, subject to concessions in Poland, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The Discovery Communications logo is seen at their office in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The EU found there to be limited overlap in the companies’ activities in Britain, but saw the risk that Discovery’s bargaining power towards TV distributors in Poland would increase because of its acquisition of Scripps’ TVN broadcaster.

Following the deal, Discovery could have imposed licensing of its whole TV channel portfolio at increased pricing in particular because TVN24, TVN’s flagship news channel, was identified as crucial to retail TV offerings.

To address the concern, Discovery committed to making TVN24 and sister channel TVN24 Bis available to TV distributors in Poland at a reasonable fee for seven years.

The Commission said it had also rejected a request from Poland to refer the merger to the Polish competition authority for assessment.

Discovery is paying cash and stock in a deal valued at $14.6 billion including debt when it was announced in July 2017. The acquisition will bring together Scripps’ largely female-focused lifestyle channels with Discovery’s Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, whose viewers are primarily male.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop

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