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Business Brief: Local Media Consolidation Continues With CW Purchase

WJXT building exterior
John Burr

In this week’s “Business Brief,” analyst John Burr tells WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo the owner of TV station WJXT, Graham Media, is buying rival WCWJ, known as CW17. Graham Media is the former owner of the Washington Post.

Burr notes the purchase completes a network TV consolidation in the Jacksonville market, with TEGNA Media’s controlling the local NBC and ABC affiliates and Cox Media’s controlling the local CBS and Fox affiliates.

He says the nationwide trend of media consolidation is a cost-saving measure, along with downsizing. Just look at the The Florida Times-Union newspaper, which recently announced it’s putting its riverfront headquarters in Brooklyn up for sale.

Burr spoke with Graham Media President and CEO Emily Barr about purchasing the company’s first-ever CW affiliate.

“I think what we like about WCWJ is it’s also, in its own ways, a very strong station with a very different and distinct audience from the one that we attract over at WJXT,” Barr said.

The CW targets a younger demographic than Channel 4 does, a draw for Graham Media.

Barr says it remains to be seen whether the company will create a whole new news unit for the CW or carry its News4Jax newscasts on that channel as well. News4Jax is the No. 1 ranked TV news station in the market.

“We first need to examine what the audience makeup is on CW17 before we make any decisions as to whether we produce a special newscast for that audience,” she said.

But Burr says if history is any indication, the two stations will be combining operations, not expanding production. And that will likely mean layoffs.

“The whole name of the game is cutting costs and doing more with less, and less means less people,” he says.