FCC Gives Nod to Merging of Hispanic Broadcast Duo

10 September 2003

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday conferred its blessing on the $3 billion (€2.68bn; £1.89bn) merger of two major Spanish-language broadcasters, Univision and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation.

The FCC vote – as with the broader issue of media ownership caps – was split along party lines with the three Republican commissioners outgunning the two Democrats.

The latter expressed their concern that the decision to approve the merger failed to take into account the interests of America’s 37 million Hispanics. The former acceded to the view of chairman Michael K Powell, that Spanish-language media should not be treated as a separate market.

As one observer of the US media scene remarked, any advertiser or agency taking a similar line would likely be on welfare in record time.

Univision, the Los Angeles-based senior partner in the deal, insists that the merger is necessary to enable the pair to compete for ad dollars against larger players in the broadcast field.

“This merger will effectively provide the size and scope to compete against English language media conglomerates,” said Univision. “60% per cent of advertisers don't advertise in Spanish. We will be able to attract new advertisers.”

The company already enjoys an extensive reach into the growing Hispanic market, with several television networks, numerous TV stations, a cable network, an ISP and a record label.

Opponents, such as Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System and NBC-owned Telemundo maintain that the marriage gives Univision immoderate command of the Spanish language market.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff