NEW YORK One of the last privately held cable networks is going on the block as Landmark Communications is looking to sell the Weather Channel for a reported $5 billion.
According to a story published this morning by Landmark's Norfolk, Va.-based newspaper property The Virginian-Pilot, vice chairman Richard F. Barry III confirmed that the holding company has retained JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers "to assist in exploring strategic alternatives," including the possible sale of The Weather Channel and its online unit.
Among those said to be courting Landmark for a shot at picking up Weather Channel are NBC Universal, News Corp. and Comcast.
One of the most broadly distributed cable networks available in the U.S., the Weather Channel reaches some 96.4 million households. It also boasts one of the nation's most-trafficked Web sites in weather.com. According to comScore data for November 2007, weather.com was the 16th most popular site during that month, averaging 34.1 million unique visitors.
In addition to the Weather Channel, Landmark owns nine daily newspapers, dozens of specialty publications, and TV stations in Las Vegas and Nashville, Tenn.