Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Changing channels in Jacksonville

Competition is fading in the Jacksonville TV market. In January, Graham Holdings, owner of independent station WJXT, acquired CW network affiliate WCWJ — leaving Jacksonville’s six commercial TV stations in the hands of just three operators.

Tegna owns the NBC and ABC affiliates, and Cox Media runs the CBS and Fox stations.

The acquisition reflects current trends in station ownership, says BIA/Kelsey media analyst Mark Fratrik. “It is not unique,” he says. “There are a lot of other markets like this.”

Fratrik says dual ownership of stations is an “economic necessity” to offset the high fixed costs of running a TV station. “It is somewhat challenging in medium and small markets,” he says. What’s unique about Jacksonville is that “WJXT is still maintaining its market share.”

Some considered it a mistake in 2002 when Graham, then known as the Washington Post Co., dropped WJXT’s longtime CBS affiliation to become an independent station. WJXT’s focus on local news, however, has kept it as the top station in the market in terms of revenue, Fratrik says.

According to BIA’s most recent data, WJXT took in 25% of the market’s TV revenue in 2015. NBC station WTLV was second with 22.6%, followed by CBS affiliate WJAX with 18.4%

The success of WJXT and its news operation would make it seem natural for Graham to bring some of that program- ming to WCWJ, which ranked fifth with 9.1% of the market’s revenue. But Emily Barr, CEO of Graham’s television group, says there are no immediate plans to make changes at the CW station.

“It has a good combination of syndicated and local programming, and that’s not going to change,” she says.

Business Briefs

GAINESVILLE — Exactech, a maker of bone and joint restoration products, sold its spine products business to Tennessee-based ChoiceSpine.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Clamour Theatre Co. is raising money to buy the nearly century-old Clay Theatre, where it plans to produce live theater.

JACKSONVILLE — CSX eliminated 800 management-level jobs, including 500 of its 2,500 management employees in Jacksonville. The layoffs came before CEO Hunter Harrison’s recent appointment. The Molasky Group of Las Vegas bought the historic 18-story Barnett Bank building for $4 million from a company owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Molasky is working with a partnership controlling three other downtown buildings, known as the Laura Street Trio, on a major redevelopment plan for the properties, all built in the early 1900s. The ECHL minor hockey league franchise in Evansville, Ind., is moving to Jacksonville and begins play in October as the Jacksonville IceMen. The North American Soccer League took over ownership of Jacksonville’s minor league soccer team, the Armada, from original owner Mark Frisch. After launching its first product last year, GoNitro, Espero Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to an extended release aspirin product called Durlaza, which is also intended as a cardiovascular treatment. Mortgage banker PHH sold most of its remaining Jacksonville operation and turned over the lease on its office to LenderLive Network. LenderLive is hiring 250 to 300 former PHH employees to work at the site. ARC Group, franchisor of the Dick’s Wings restaurant chain, agreed to buy Yobe Frozen Yogurt for $1.4 million plus a potential $900,000 performance-based payment. BAE Systems was awarded a U.S. Navy contract of at least $51.3 million to upgrade the USS Roosevelt aircraft carrier. As it completed its $4.6-billion merger with Equity One, Regency Centers was added to the S&P 500 index. Safariland, which produces law enforcement and military products, expanded its operations by acquiring Pacific Safety Products of Arnprior, Canada, and two British companies, Aegis Engineering and LBA International.

ST. AUGUSTINE Ñ A proxy fight launched by former Creative Learning CEO Brian Pappas failed when he did not receive enough consent forms from other stockholders. Pappas, ousted as CEO in 2015, had sought to replace the board with his own representatives.


Translation Made Easy

Why learn a foreign language when technology can do it for you? Mary Lee Weir founded a Jacksonville company last year called RealComm Global, which allows you to talk to speakers of other languages in your native tongue and get a real time translation in 60 languages.

“We’re also mapping the emotions so we can get the cultural feel,” says Weir. RealComm’s software platform can analyze facial points to help a user read body language on a video chat.

Weir won’t disclose revenue but is optimistic 2017 will bring in strong results. “We are working with some very big enterprise customers.”


Hunt Hawkins, who had been interim CEO, became the chief executive of fashion retailer Stein Mart. He succeeds Dawn Robertson, who resigned abruptly in September after six months on the job. Hawkins has been with Stein Mart since 1994 and was previously president and COO.

William Nielson became president and CEO of International Baler after Roger Griffin resigned. Nielson had been CFO of the manufacturer since 1994.

Seenu Kasturi became president and CFO of ARC Group, franchisor of the Dick’s Wings restaurant chain. Kasturi is a restaurant industry veteran who is also a franchisee of Dick’s Wings.

Camille Farhat was hired as CEO of RTI Surgical after Brian Hutchison retired in August. Farhat was previously CEO of American Medical Systems before joining Alachua-based RTI, which makes surgical implants.