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Paxson, Journal do JSA

Paxson Communications Thursday announced its first joint sales agreement with an NBC station not owned by the network. Commercial airtime for Paxson's wpxe (tv) Milwaukee will be sold by salespeople from Journal Broadcast Group-owned NBC affiliate wtmj-tv.

Under the agreement, Paxson says, a separate sales team will sell wpxe time. Paxson will keep a business manager and traffic manager at wtmj-tv's site. The NBC affiliate will provide engineering support for both stations and, eventually, their digital broadcasts.

Revenues from the Paxson station are to be split under a formula that was not disclosed. Neither party would comment on layoffs of Paxson's current staff, except to say that Paxson staffers would be interviewed for any openings.

Wtmj-tv's newscasts will also be rebroadcast beginning July 3. The 6 o'clock news will be simulcast, and the 10 o'clock news will be rebroadcast on wpxe at 10:30.

Paxson President and CEO Jeff Sagansky called WTMJ-TV "the dominant station and news leader in the Milwaukee market. This continues our strategy to integrate with the NBC affiliates and provide a revenue-enhancing sales and programming structure in this key market."

Jim Prather, president of the Journal Broadcast Group, said the deal will give considerable broadcast flexibility to his station and compared the strategy with the broadcast-cable model used by NBC and its cable arm, MSNBC. "We have to be in more places with our product and provide a different product to serve this fragmenting audience. We are already No. 1 in news. This gives us an opportunity to sell at a different rate to advertisers who can't afford to advertise on wtmj."

The alliance will also allow the station to run its normally scheduled WTMJ-TV newscasts on wpxe during the summer Olympics without pre-empting Olympic coverage on wtmj-tv.-Dan Trigoboff