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Action News Jacksonville Owner Explores Selling TV Stations

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Google Images Via Cox Enterprises
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Cox Enterprises, Inc. has announced it is exploring "strategic options" for its ownership or other interests in 14 TV stations, including WFOX-TV 30 and WJAX-TV 47 in Jacksonville, which broadcast the Fox and CBS networks. The stations also broadcast Action News Jacksonville.

The options include "partnering or merging the stations into a larger TV company," according to Cox Enterprises. 

"We didn't take this decision lightly. It is clear that scale is critical for TV affiliates to be positioned well for the future. Our stations are some of the best in the industry and we want them to stay that way," Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor said Tuesday in a news release.

In addition to the TV 14 stations, Cox Enterprises also owns or operates 61 radio stations, including a half-dozen stations in Jacksonville along with newspapers that include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cox Enterprises said it had no immediate plans for its non-TV businesses.  It also didn’t disclose any talks with any potential suitors. It did however say the stations are "attractive assets in today's marketplace," implying a sale of some type is a possibility. 

"Cox's television stations are and will always be an important part of our company's history, and we greatly value the contributions of these stations to the success of our company and to the communities where we do business," said Jim Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises. "We are deeply appreciative of the employees at these stations and their dedication to delivering quality, consistent and trustworthy journalism."

In Jacksonville, Cox Media Group owns WFOX-TV 30, while it has a joint sales and shared services agreement to operate WJAX-TV 47, which is owned by Hoffman Communications of Vero Beach.

Both Jacksonville TV stations are in the same building and share the same staff.  The stations were previously owned by Clear Channel.

Media consolidation and merger talks have been ongoing around the country. Among the largest current examples are Disney's potential merger with 21st Century Fox and Sinclair's bid to buy Tribune Media.

Just last month AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner after a judge ruled in AT&T's favor.  However, the Justice Department is appealing the AT&T/Time Warner deal

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.