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Scripps Unites Emerging Digital Duo

10/21/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Looking to bolster its digital networks, Scripps Networks is tying Do It Yourself and Fine Living together under the auspices of a group headed by Bob Baskerville.

The formation of the Emerging Networks group under Baskerville — the veteran programmer who has been serving as president of DIY — will migrate quality lifestyle proponent Fine Living from Los Angeles to the Scripps Networks headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. It has also resulted in pink slips for some 15 employees, who were not offered positions in Tennessee.

ACTING GM LEAVING

John McDonald, the Fine Living acting general manager, is not making the trek and will pursue interests outside the company, according to Scripps spokeswoman Cindy McConkey.

Chad Youngblood, as part of the company’s new direction, has been promoted from vice president of on-air promotions at sister network Home & Garden Television to general manager of Fine Living, where he will work with Baskerville on programming and promotions. Scripps said it expects to name someone to a similar position for DIY within a few weeks.

Robyn Ulrich, who has been with Scripps for 10 years, will also be part of the group’s management team as senior vice president of marketing.

Fine Living founding president Ken Solomon, who now heads independent The Tennis Channel, left the Scripps service in September 2004.

“We have a real opportunity to strengthen and grow these networks even further within the digital tier, and we’re committing the strategic thinking, creative attention and internal resources to support that effort,” Scripps Networks president John Lansing said in a statement.

“As president of DIY Network, Bob Baskerville has taken DIY from a startup to a front-runner among a multitude of digital programmers,” the statement added. “He has given the network a sharper focus and greatly enhanced the program quality. We are confident he will continue to have a big impact in this broader role.”

DIY currently reaches about 35 million U.S. households and Fine Living is approaching 30 million.

TRANSITION UNDERWAY

Last Thursday, McConkey said the Fine Living transition is already being made, noting that a handful of employees in finance and business affairs will be moving with the network to Knoxville.

Although Fine Living will rely on “collaboration” from existing positions at headquarters, the network will look within and outside the company to hire new personnel, particularly in the programming and marketing disciplines. “The idea is to grow the network. We want to make sure that Fine Living is fully supported,” said McConkey.

One area that won’t need shoring up: production. McConkey said Fine Living did very “little production and editing in Los Angeles. Fine Living will benefit from the facilities we have here.”

September