NBC Universal Announces Weather Channel Deal

America's third most distributed cable network, The Weather Channel, might soon become property of NBC Universal.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And let's talk about another possible combination. NBC Universal, along with two investment firms, plan to buy The Weather Channel. There's something that could affect the viewing habits of my parents, maybe your parents, maybe you. I have to admit it, maybe me. Weather Channel is now owned by a privately held company, Landmark Communications. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES: Landmark announced in January it was selling The Weather Channel, which is the third most distributed cable network. Initial bids reportedly came in lower than the $5 billion Landmark was seeking. Time Warner, Inc. and NBC Universal were the leading contenders for the network until Time Warner dropped out of the bidding last month.

NBC Universal and its partners, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group, have not disclosed the financial terms of the deal, but several reports place the price tag in the region of $3.5 billion. The transaction includes The Weather Channel's cable network, its Web site, and its division, Weather Service International.

The Weather Channel is seen in more than 97 percent of cable television homes in the U.S., and its Web site is the number one destination for weather information on the Web. NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker says joining with The Weather Channel will further position NBC as the leading provider of news, information and weather, both online and on television. NBC Universal will manage The Weather Channel, but it will be operated as a separate entity based in Atlanta.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

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