Cox Enterprises explores options for Cox Media Group’s television stations

Cox Enterprises announced today that it will explore strategic options for its ownership or other interest in 14 television properties, including partnering or merging the stations into a larger company.

The company owns Atlanta’s WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News, which has been the dominant television station in the market and one of the leading stations in the industry throughout its 70-year history.

Cox also owns or has interest in stations in Seattle, Boston, Charlotte, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Jacksonville, Tulsa and Dayton, Ohio.

“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,” said Alex Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Cox Enterprises.

Acquisition and merger discussions have been numerous in the television industry recently, as companies look to create scale in the wake of statements by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai that he intends to loosen rules around ownership of local TV stations.

The 14 stations in nine states are part of Cox Media Group, Cox Enterprises’ integrated broadcasting, publishing and digital media company, and reach more than 31 million viewers in their markets.

“These stations have been established as leading news and information outlets and are cornerstones of the communities they serve. This in turn has driven strong financial performance, making the stations attractive assets in today’s marketplace,” the company said.

The company also owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB radio, several other Atlanta radio stations and media properties in other markets.

Cox said it will continue to operate other parts of its media portfolio, and is investing in strategic priorities to foster growth within its existing businesses and in new growth areas.

“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.”