Multimedia Cox says digital is blurring the lines between media, and with that in mind, it is bringing its radio, television and newspaper operations together under one roof. Key execs definitely figure into the new configuration. Sandy Schwartz, head of the new Cox Media Group, says one of the primary reason for bringing the units together is to unite their various sales forces.
“By leveraging the sales expertise from all of our media businesses, we will ensure that each of our local operations has the best possible sales systems, sales training and, most importantly, sales management talent in the entire industry – vitally important in today’s economic climate.”
Secondary concerns are to upgrade digtital operations and research efforts. However, he added, “It is still important to point out that our local brands are critical to each business unit’s success and to our communities, and our local media businesses will continue their existing independent news and editorial functions. We won’t deviate from that mission.”
The company made no mention of cutbacks of any sort, emphasizing in material given to employees that they should look at the changes as a source of opportunity. In particular, the company will be looking for those who branch out from whichever of the three units they started with and become conversant in all three mainstream media as well as digital.
Each traditional medium will have a champion at the corporate level. Schwartz will be on hand to represent television’s views, Bob Neil will advocate for radio and Doug Franklin will handle the newspaper viewpoint.
These three will oversee mixed media elements in rough geographical regions. Neil’s portfolio will include most of the group’s eastern seaboard stations, along with properties in the Pittsburgh area; Franklin will oversee properties in Ohio, Kentucky and Texas; and Schwartz will focus mostly on television stations in western markets, along with the group’s Honolulu radio cluster.
Franklin will have a special responsibility in Dayton. The modest size of the market and the fact that Cox has all three media in operation there will make it a laboratory as the company learns to maximize its new organizational platform.
RBR/TVBR observation: Usually when a company makes a major move such as this, they cite the financial benefits of newly realized organizational efficiencies. They also lay the groundwork for the unfortunate parting of ways with some highly-regarded colleagues who become victims of these new efficiencies.
Cox does none of that. The company seems truly convinced that radio, television and newspaper will work better as one unit than as three separate units; and is nevertheless making sure that each will retain its own unique identity – and it is adamant that its existing news operations, whether working in the same market or not, will compete with one another and retain editorial autonomy.
We wish the company good luck with its new platform, and we further hope they do well enough with it to help others fina a path through this difficult economy.