E. W. Scripps Co. has consolidated the affiliate salesefforts for Home & Garden Television, the Food Network and the newly announcedDo-It-Yourself digital service under Susan Packard, HGTV's chief operating officer.
Knoxville, Tenn.-based Packard has overseen HGTV'sdistribution from the outset, as one of that network's founders. Do-It-Yourself (DIY)was announced only last week as being targeted for digital launch within the year (seestory page 26).
As for Food, acquired last year by HGTV parent E.W.Scripps, its affiliate sales activities have been overseen by Gregory Willis, senior vicepresident of worldwide distribution, and Catherine Rasenberger, senior vice president ofaffiliate sales and marketing. Rasenberger will continue reporting to Willis, who nowreports to Packard; he had reported to Erica Gruen, Food's president.
In an internal memo, Ken Lowe, HGTV's president andCEO, cited this 'unified management' of the two established networks'distribution as a plus in their evolution, although he also pointed out that 'HGTVand Food will continue to develop as separate brands and franchises.'
Packard explained that the restructuring was inspired bycable operators, who preferred dealing with one representative in each region
'We're just at the front end' of the revamp,Packard said, so it won't be clear for a couple of months whether there will belayoffs. She has asked the field offices for recommendations on the future affiliate salesstructure.
The business has become much more complex, Packard said,adding that she's amazed that, as stand-alone networks, HGTV and Food were the twofastest services in 1997. HGTV has 36 million subscribers, Food nearly 30 million, shesaid.
'We're now able to package our various networkstogether,' she said, adding that HGTV and Food will join forces in marketing byrunning cross-channel spots on each other's air and also by sharing a booth at theNational Show. Developing joint programming or ad sales is 'conceivable' at somepoint, but she said there are no immediate plans.