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Discovery to purchase Scripps Networks for $14.6 billion

Discovery intends to purchase the Knoxville-based media group for $14.6 billion.

It's official: After weeks of speculation, Discovery Communications has announced a deal to purchase Knoxville-based Scripps Networks Interactive.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Discovery,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said. “Scripps is one of the best run media companies in the world with terrific assets, strong brands and popular talent and formats. Our business is about great storytelling, authentic characters and passionate super fans."

Scripps CEO Kenneth Lowe said the agreement will allow the company to grow further across the world and on many different platforms. Lowe is expected to join Discovery's board of directors after the deal has been closed.

The merger will need to reviewed and approves by regulatory agencies. The deal is expected to close by early 2018.

Scripps is home to many popular brands, including the Food Network and HGTV.

In Knoxville, people are wondering what this means for the headquarters's 1,000 employees, the production companies it outsources to and the local economy.

Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economics Research at the University of Tennessee, said it's hard to know for sure, but he said he thinks Discovery will still call Knoxville home.

"I would guess a significant portion ends up staying here," Fox said. "And hopefully the outcome here is that when they think about these two companies and all the production that's taking place, they'll want to move more of it here because, simply, it's a relatively low-cost environment in which to produce."

If Discovery does move the Knoxville operations to, say, its current headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, Fox said it could impact business locally.

"It would clearly be a big loss, but it's much to early to anticipate that they're doing this," Fox said.