There is news out that Newport Television, LLC has sold 22 of its television stations, two of which are WTEV and WAWS in Jacksonville. The other side of this news is that they were sold to Cox Media Group, which owns WAPE, WFYV and WOKV in Jacksonville.
Consolidation of media outlets is nothing new today. However in the past, it used to be a real concern, particularly by the government, and specifically by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In the mid 80’s in North Florida, Morris Communications, which owns the Florida Times Union, underwent the process of purchasing Naegele Outdoor Advertising Inc. The FCC was questioning that Morris, through ownership of the city’s only daily newspaper and the largest billboard company in North Florida, would have too much control over the media.
As a partner of one of the major advertising agencies in Jacksonville at that time, I was interviewed by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. They wanted to know if sales representatives from the Times Union were putting pressure on me to buy billboards along with their print ads. (Just for the record, I never experienced that issue from Times Union sales reps and I had no problem with the purchase.) The newspaper was finally cleared to purchase the billboard company. Years later, Morris sold the billboard business.
Today the FCC has been lax in their policies. The agency has ignored many problems, including a major issue that is very obvious to the viewing public - the problem with stations ratcheting up the audio volume during commercials. The U.S. Congress had to step in to offer a remedy.
Good or bad the buying and selling of media properties is going to continue. And with broadcast companies, further movement will be seen with the emergence of Hulu and other Internet sources.
As far as Cox taking over WTEV and WAWS, no one knows for sure how that will turn out. Years ago, ClearChannel, which had a group of Jacksonville radio stations, took control of these two same stations. Management tried to have the TV sales force and the radio sales force cross sell their stations. That didn’t last long. It was too difficult to mix the two sales cultures.
All we can hope for as viewers and as media specialists is that Cox will invest the dollars in these stations to provide attractive programming to the North Florida market.