Travel Channel to find new home

The network for wanderers seems to be doing a bit of that itself these days. Cox Communications, which owns the Travel Channel, is shopping it around, with several companies expressing interest. So, will it wind up with Scripps Networks, which has the Food Network and HGTV? Or, could it wind up part of Rupert Murdoch‘s empire over at News Corp?

So far, Scripps seems to be in the lead, with Rupert’s folks not crazy about the climbing price of the channel. The latest bids, word is, are north of $1 billion. Back in June, when Cox first put it on the block, industry watchers figured it would fetch between $600 million and $700 million. Last week, the $900 million mark was pierced and has since been left in the rearview mirror.

The Travel Channel hasn’t landed yet, and it could take a while for the dust to settle. We’ll keep watching … the action, that is.

An open letter to the soon-to-be new owners of the Travel Channel

Dear Soon-To-Be New Owners of the Travel Channel,

Most reports are indicating that the Travel Channel’s current owner, Cox Communications, is ready to sell the network for close to $700 million. The companies expected to submit an initial bid (due today) include NBC Universal, Scripps Network, and News Corp.

If anyone from those three corporate behemoths has stumbled across this humble travel blog, allow me to offer you some unsolicited advice for how the Travel Channel could be improved. It’s simple, and it boils down to this: Play travel programming. More precisely, play only travel programming.

As I look over the Travel Channel’s schedule of upcoming shows on its website, I find several whose presence on a travel network can only be explained by some sort of clerical error. Why, for example, is the ridiculous show Ghost Adventures featured anywhere on your schedule? Why does this Thursday evening appear to be devoted entirely to the antics of magician David Blaine? Why is the Robert Redford-Brad Pitt vehicle Spy Game playing this Saturday night? And finally, what the hell does the ubiquitous World Poker Tour have to do with travel? (Answer: “It’s got ‘World’ in the title!”)

To whomever purchases the Travel Channel: If you continue Cox Communications’ infuriating habit of scheduling these non-travel-related shows instead of original travel programming like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Dhani Tackles the Globe, and, hell, even Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches, you risk alienating your core audience, people who love to travel.

Focusing on magic, poker, and the occult might attract a few channel surfers, but it isn’t worth losing your biggest fans in the process.

Aaron Hotfelder