Radio Ramifications To Cox/Fox TV Swap?

Cox Media Group  KTVU San Francisco Fox WFXT 25 Boston WHBQ-TV Memphis Greater Media EntercomOn Tuesday, Cox Media Group swapped their two television stations in San Francisco (Fox 2 KTVU and Independent “TV36” KICU) to Fox Television Stations for their owned stations in Boston and Memphis.

Is there a radio connection to the swap? Back in 2012 Cox realigned their media properties “to focus on larger markets, cross-media collaboration, and heightened impact in fewer markets.” That realignment led to the divestiture of six radio clusters and five television stations.

Of the sixteen markets Cox currently operates media properties in (not including San Francisco), the company has cross-media clusters in five of them.

In Atlanta the company’s grandfathered cluster now includes 1 AM, 5 FM’s, 1 TV, and 1 Newspaper. Similar clusters operate in Dayton, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tulsa. Of the remainder of the company’s markets, Cox owns just a newspaper in two (Austin & West Palm Beach), only television stations in three (Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Seattle), and only radio stations in six (Athens, Houston, Long Island, Miami, San Antonio, Tampa).

The swap with Fox is the first major acquisition for Cox since its realignment. Adding stand-alone television stations in Boston and Memphis goes against the operating model that realignment created. Does this open the door for radio acquisitions in those markets? It is noticeable that four companies own radio stations in Boston and at least one of the other markets than Cox currently owns just television stations. Clear Channel has stations in all five but has shown no willingness to be a seller. CBS owns radio in all but Memphis, but it has existing TV overlap in Boston and Pittsburgh that would be hard to give up. Entercom owns radio stations in Boston and Memphis. Greater Media has radio stations in Boston and Charlotte.

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  1. johndavis says

    Is this really a change in strategy?

    The standalone TV stations they sold off a few years back were in markets 91 – 157. They trade a Fox affiliate and an indy in market 6 for Fox in market 7 and 50.

    They said at the time they would take standalone stations in large markets and stay in smaller markets if they could share resources with other nearby media holdings. Example: Dayton is a small market, but in addition to being James Cox’s first newspaper is also where the company has radio, TV, and print all under one roof. Seattle (KIRO) is a standalone TV operation as was San Francisco. So they don’t necessarily need to do a deal in Boston to stick to their plan. And compared to the markets they spun off, Memphis is large in comparison and could bring in a healthy profit compared to a duopoly independent that probably was the “value added” station.

    So I’m not so sure this really is a sign of deals to come. We know that Fox really wanted an O&O in San Francisco, and if it came down to Fox doing a deal with KTVU or Fox doing a deal with KRON, there’s a lot of upside in not watching your affiliation go across the street.

  2. Mark W. says

    I agree. This is all about FOX seizing an opportunity to gain an O&O in an important NFC football market.

    Cox saw what happened in Charlotte to WCCB. (Cox owns the #1 rated news station in Charlotte, channel 9 WSOC-TV). They knew if they didn’t acquiesce, FOX would walk down the street, purchase KRON-4, and yank the FOX affiliation from KTVU.

    Moral of the story — if you own a FOX affiliate in a market that has an NFC Conference football team, especially one with a large following, WATCH YOUR BACK!!!

  3. Joseph_Gallant says

    I [b]could[/b] see Cox buying Entercom ‘s Boston radio stations.

    However, I [b]can’t[/b] see Cox buying Greater Media because Greater’s corporate headquarters are now in the Boston area.

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