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Cox Enterprises Considers Sale Of WSB-TV

Cox said it is looking at all of its options for its TV stations, including partnering with another company to combine broadcast operations.
Cox said it is looking at all of its options for its TV stations, including partnering with another company to combine broadcast operations.
Credit Ric Feld / Associated Press
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Cox Enterprises said Tuesday that it is considering a sale of WSB-TV and its other 13 TV stations.

The Atlanta-based company said it is looking at all of its options for the TV stations, including partnering with another company to combine broadcast operations. Cox said it will continue to run its media properties as it normally would until decisions have been reached.

In a statement, Cox said TV station owners are seeking greater scale to succeed in today’s media marketplace. That means the Cox broadcast operations need to become part of something larger.

Keith Herndon, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia and a former Cox employee, said Cox’s reasoning fits with what he is seeing in the media world.

“There are companies out there that own hundreds of stations. I think Cox was sitting there and saying we own 14 stations; that is not enough for us to have media scale,” Herndon said. “They had to make a decision to either be an aggressive acquirer of stations or they had to sell what they have.”

Besides the 14 TV stations, Cox Enterprises’ Media Group  owns more than 60 radio stations, four daily newspapers and more than 80 digital sites. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB Radio are part of its operations.

The sale of WSB-TV may have ramification.

“It’s a very uncertain time for the AJC,” Herndon said.

That’s because the Atlanta newspaper and the TV station has a close relationship in terms of sharing reporting resources.

“This decision may impact other parts of Cox Media Group and we will evaluate those situations as the process unfolds. I know CMG employees will wonder ‘What will this mean to me?'” Cox CEO Alex Taylor said in a letter to employees. “As we haven’t settled on an outcome, we can’t answer those questions yet.”

He estimated the process of evaluating options will continue into the new year.