- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2003


The government will allow Univision Communications Inc., the nation’s largest Spanish-language media company, to expand in the growing Hispanic community by purchasing Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. for $3.5 billion, a government official said yesterday.

The Federal Communication Commission’s three Republican commissioners support the merger, while the two Democrats oppose it, said two agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

An official announcement of the FCC vote, expected late yesterday, was delayed for unknown reasons.

Under the plan, Los Angeles-based Univision would acquire HBC’s 63 radio stations. The company then would have to sell two radio stations as a condition of the FCC’s approval, one of the officials said.

Univision already owns the Univision and TeleFutura TV networks, the Galavision cable network and 50 television stations nationwide.

With the merger, Univision would have the top Spanish-language broadcast TV network, cable channel, record label, Internet site and radio network, as well as the largest group of television and radio stations.

Univision spokeswoman Stephanie Pillersdorf had no immediate comment.

Opponents of the merger have said it will limit the news and entertainment choices for Spanish-speaking patrons in the United States.

Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System Inc., which owns or operates 27 radio stations in seven of the top 10 U.S. Hispanic markets, has sent the FCC repeated warnings that the merger could cause too much concentration in Hispanic media.

Univision insists there is broad support for the deal in the Hispanic community and there isn’t a separate market for Spanish-language media.

The company contends it has a relatively small presence in broadcasting overall and it competes with English and Spanish-language networks for advertisers and viewers, who often are bilingual.

Rival network Telemundo and its parent company, NBC, also have complained the deal will harm competition and limit viewpoints.

They say half the rapidly growing Hispanic population looks to Spanish-language media as their primary source of news and entertainment and relies heavily on television and radio.

The Justice Department in February approved the merger after Univision agreed to reduce its 27 percent ownership of Entravision Communications Corp. to less than 10 percent over the next six years.

Entravision is the largest owner of Univision TV affiliates and owns 55 radio stations, many of them in the same markets served by Dallas-based HBC.

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