Cox Media Group considering selling 14 local TV stations

Cox Media Group considering selling 14 local TV stations
© Cox Media Group

Cox Media Group announced Tuesday that it is evaluating its ownership of 14 local news stations around the country, saying the move will likely result in the company losing full control over the stations.  

Cox president Kim Guthrie said in a statement provided to The Hill that the company is pursuing "strategic options for its ownership or other interest" for the 14 stations located in major media markets including Seattle, Boston, Charlotte and Orlando.

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"It's important you know that this decision was not taken lightly by the company or the Cox family," Guthrie wrote, adding that the company will be "thoughtful in our evaluation of possible partners and the impact these changes will have on our people."

"Our analysis shows that scale is critical to be successful. We firmly believe that our great stations — and talented people — will need to be part of a larger entity to thrive in the future," she added.

Guthrie's statement went on to note that the process of selling off part or full control of the stations will likely take six months to a year to complete.

Cox Media Group's decision to review its ownership of the stations comes as its larger competitor, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, has sought to win regulatory approval for its proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media.

Sinclair has faced criticism over its pro-Trump opinion segments, which are often critical of the national news media and so-called "fake news."

A segment that ran on the company's 193 local news stations last month downplayed the issue of migrant family separations amid backlash to the Trump administration's immigration policies.

"Many members of the media and opponents of the president have seized on this issue to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are somehow monsters," Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump spokesman, said in the segment. “Let’s be honest: While some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media.”

It's unclear whether Cox already has a buyer in mind for the 14 stations it currently controls, but the statement said that the announcement was likely to "attract many interested parties." In addition to the 14 stations, the company also controls dozens of local radio stations and several newspapers.