In a surprise move, Jones Media Networks has agreed to sell its cable network, Great American Country, to the E.W. Scripps Co. for $140 million in cash.

In a surprise move, Jones Media Networks has agreed to sell its cable network, Great American Country, to the E.W. Scripps Co. for $140 million in cash.

E.W. Scripps is the parent of Scripps Networks, which owns a variety of lifestyle-oriented cable outlets, including the Food Network, Home & Garden Television, Fine Living and the DIY -- Do It Yourself Network. Scripps also operates the Shop at Home Network.

Launched in 1996, GAC is a 24-hour country music video network that competes with Viacom's much larger Country Music Television. GAC is distributed via cable and satellite systems to about 34 million Nielsen-rated households in the United States. CMT reaches 75 million homes. Total revenues for GAC in 2004 are expected to be $12 million.

Scripps plans to maintain the cross-promotional platforms Jones utilized among GAC and the company's radio and Web properties.

Scripps president/CEO Kenneth Lowe says in a statement that the company plans "to build on the success GAC has had in country music videos gaining wide distribution and establishing itself as a broadly recognized cable television network brand."

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in late November.

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