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Univision: Hispanic Television's Undisputed King

NCM Profile

NCM, Marcelo Ballv and Elena Shore Posted: Oct 15, 2003

In 1961, the first Spanish-language station in the United States was founded in San Antonio, Texas. Today KWEX is one of 50 Univision stations providing local news, Mexican telenovelas (soap operas), sports, entertainment and talk shows to Latino audiences across the country.

Univision was acquired from Hallmark Inc. in 1992 by a partnership of A. Jerrold Perenchio, Televisa and Venevision. Today Mr. Perenchio is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Univision Communications Inc. With a whopping 80 percent of the Latino prime-time television market share nationally, Los Angeles-based Univision is the undisputed king of Spanish-language television.

The network also operates Galavision, the Spanish-language cable channel established in 1979. In 2002, Univision launched the new network Telefutura, and announced its acquisition of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, the largest Spanish-language radio broadcasting company in the U.S. The company owns controlling shares in one Mexican recording label and owns another outright. Through Entravision, Univision also has interests in outdoor billboards and the El Diario-La Prensa newspaper in New York City. Univision.com is the most viewed website by U.S. Latinos.

Despite its rapid growth into a national media giant, Univision has remained active at the community-level. Unlike the mainstream English-language networks, which tend to restrict their community involvement to campaigns like blood-drives or fundraising for childrens hospitals, Univision has been an important facilitator of Latino political involvement in the U.S. In Californiathe state with the highest population of Latinos in the countrypart of a jump in Latino voter registration in the 1990s can be attributed to the Voz y Voto campaign. Developed by Latino rights organizations in the wake of anti-illegal-immigrant proposals, the campaign encouraged viewers to get citizenship and register to vote.

As a result of the booming population of Latinos in the U.S., and their heavy reliance on television for information, campaigns like Voz y Votoaired on Univision and other Spanish-language channels in the statehave been immensely successful. In 1998, Californias gubernatorial candidates went on Univision for the first Spanish-language debate for a statewide election in U.S. history; the candidates spoke in English but were simultaneously translated into Spanish.

In addition to financial success, Univision has garnered acclaim for the content of its programming. In 2002, Univision was nominated for two national News and Documentary Emmy Awards--for a segment of Aqu y Ahora and an episode of Primer Impacto. Noticiero Univision and Primer Impacto are also the only Spanish-language network news programs ever honored with the Edward R. Murrow Award.

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