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Scripps begins replacing digital networks on Ion-owned stations

The E.W. Scripps Company is integrating its Katz digital networks with newly-acquired Ion Media Networks after spending more than $2 billion for the former earlier this year.

Starting this week, Scripps will replace several Ion-programmed digital networks with those programmed under the Katz Broadcasting subsidiary brand.

Ion Plus, Ion Shop, Qubo and a fourth channel that rotates infomercials will be replaced with Court TV, Gritt, Laff and Bounce by the end of the week. Shopping channels HSN and QVC will continue on Ion owned-and-operated stations for now, but they will eventually be replaced with Court TV Mystery and Newsy in some markets. The Ion Television Network, which airs re-runs of crime dramas and other programs, will continue on for the time being.

“The distribution expansion of the Scripps multicast networks through Ion’s broadcast spectrum is the first major step in our realizing the tremendous synergies of the Ion transaction,” Adam Symson, president of Scripps, said in a statement last month. “National Networks President Lisa Knutson and her team are working quickly and effectively to uphold Scripps’ commitment to executing our plan. Once again, Scripps is doing what we said we would do.”

Scripps already has existing affiliation agreements with other broadcasters, including ViacomCBS, TEGNA and Nexstar Media Group, to distribute the Katz networks on digital subchannels of local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CW stations. For a period of time, most markets with existing affiliation agreements and an Ion owned-and-operated station will have two or more feeds of the same Katz network until existing third party affiliation agreements expire, at which point the Katz networks will be exclusive to the Ion stations.

Scripps is expected to continue offering Katz to programmers in markets with no Ion station or where Ion is carried as a digital network on a subchannel of a station owned by another company, according to people familiar with the company’s long-term strategy.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).