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NBC cuts billion dollar deal for The Weather Channel

NBC and private equity backers have agreed to buy The Weather Channel in a deal estimated to be worth $3.5 billion.

NBC, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group announced the deal late Sunday. NBC said that it will provide management support but the channel will be operated independently from its Atlanta base.

The Weather Channel Networks are the third most distributed cable nets in the US with 97% coverage. The most-viewed weather website weather.com, which has about 40 million visitors per month, is also owned by the group.

NBC did not disclose financial details but the buyers are understood to have forked out about $3.5 billion, which would make it cheaper than the reported $5 billion that previous owners, Landmark Communications, had originally wanted.