Cox Media Restructuring Merges Newspaper and Broadcast

By: Mark Fitzgerald In the latest example of a media company restructuring its business operations to operate in a world where consumers and advertisers enjoy ever-expanding options for their time and money, Cox Media Group announced Wednesday that it was putting its newspaper, radio and television businesses under one operational group.

Cox Media elevated a newspaper veteran and a radio veteran to oversee its extensive portfolio newspaper, broadcast and digital properties.

The company pointedly noted that its new business model breaks from its longtime grouping of business according to medium. Another statement from its announcement tacitly acknowledged that the media operating environment changes so rapidly that even this latest restructuring is by no means complete: "The new business model will continue to evolve over the next several months as the reporting structures go into effect."

"This new concept is another step toward fulfilling Cox Media Group's vision of operating as a fully integrated media company," Cox Media President Sandy Schwartz said in a statement. "Sharing expertise and best practices across all of our media properties allows us to better serve consumers and advertisers in our changing environment. In addition, each of Cox's media properties will benefit from expanded shared services such as research, sales, digital, finance, human resources and engineering."

Cox Media is a $1.5 billion business that publishes four metro dailies; a dozen community papers; 15 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel; and 86 radio stations.

Last December, Cox Media -- a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises -- combined its media businesses into one organization. More recently, it consolidated its national advertising firms into Cox Reps and took Cox Radio private.

Cox Media's move is similar to the efforts of Media General Inc., the Richmond, Va.-based parent of The Tampa Tribune, which has converged its newspaper, broadcast and digital properties. Media General recently announced that it would even report operating results by marketing rather than by newspaper, broadcasting and Web divisions.

Under the Cox restructuring, local newspapers and broadcast properties will continue to operate independently. Cox said these properties would continue "their existing independent news and editorial functions." But it said it expected merging the media will provide more opportunities for efficiencies and savings, and will expand sales expertise across all of its properties.

Reporting to Schwartz as executive vice presidents overseeing the media businesses will be newspaper veteran Doug Franklin and Cox Radio President Bob Neil.

Franklin is a former publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Palm Beach Post. At the Post he reached production, distribution and editorial content-sharing agreements with the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale and The Miami Herald. He merged all of Cox Media's Ohio newspapers into one business unit as CEO and president of Cox Ohio Publishing and publisher of the Dayton Daily News.

"We're creating a leadership model to better reflect the reality of today's media marketplace," Schwartz said. "The boundaries between traditional and digital media continue to merge. Doug and Bob's leadership will position Cox Media Group as a leading provider of news and entertainment to consumers, while creating unique sales opportunities for advertisers."

Cox said no job eliminations were expected from the reorganization "at this time."

Cox Media also announced that Alex Taylor, who has been publisher of The Palm Beach Post, has been named group vice president for its Dayton and Louisville, Ky., markets, effective immediately.

Taylor will report to Franklin, and oversee Cox Media's newspaper, television and radio properties in the Dayton market, and its four FM radio stations in Louisville.

A replacement for Taylor in Palm Beach will be named in the coming weeks, Cox Media said.


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