Scripps hangs for sale sign on United Media


E.W. Scripps Company says it is exploring strategic options for its United Media Licensing division. Its newspaper syndication titles include the “Miss Manners” column and the “Peanuts” comic strip.

In his quarterly conference call with analysts, Scripps CEO Rich Boehne declined to speculate on a price, but he did say that the company will move quickly to determine what will be done with United Media.

“Scripps is proud to have United Media Licensing in its portfolio, but the recent interest and activity in the market for character-based properties make this an appropriate time to determine if more long-term value will be created for our shareholders by continuing to operate the business or finding another alternative. We recognize that ‘exploring strategic options’ often is a euphemism for ‘sale,’ but this truly is an exercise to determine if these properties would be more valuable with another owner. If not, we’ll continue to nurture the characters as we have for decades,” said Boehne.

Indeed, a sale is not the only option being explored. The company also mentioned a joint venture involving all or part of United Media as a posibility. And, of course, “another option is to keep operating the business if the exploratory process leads management to determine that more long-term value can be created for company shareholders by retaining the property,” the announcement noted.

What is United Media Licensing? Here is the description from its website:

“United Media is one of the largest licensing agencies in the world, representing brands and creative content in the development and management of licensed merchandise and promotional programs. With a presence across the globe, United Media is responsible for building brand equity through product extension for a long list of classic and up-and-coming properties including Peanuts, Dilbert, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Fancy Nancy, Hallmark’s Rainbow Brite, hoops&yoyo and Maxine, Dirty Dancing, HISTORY, the award winning cable network, and Televisa’s El Chavo. United Media also syndicates 150 features worldwide, including Miss Manners, Cokie and Steven Roberts, Peanuts, Dilbert and Get Fuzzy, through United Feature Syndicate and Newspaper Enterprise Association.”