- - Monday, May 7, 2012

ABC News and Univision on Monday announced a joint venture to create an English-language news network aimed at Latinos that will offer online content this summer and be on television next year.

The venture, which does not have a name yet, is aimed at establishing a beachhead within one segment of the rapidly growing Latino marketplace — those people born in the United States who prefer to get their news in English.

“It’s not the future of America,” ABC News President Ben Sherwood told the Associated Press. “It’s the present of America.”

Univision is the nation’s largest Spanish-language media company and it already provides news content in Spanish, as does the NBC Universal-owned Telemundo. CNN En Espanol is a 24-hour Spanish-language network. The ABC-Univision venture stakes new ground with programming in English.

Mr. Sherwood said he met with Univision President Cesar Conde and Univision News President Isaac Lee more than a year ago to discuss ways to cover the presidential election together. The discussion quickly expanded, although the new TV network won’t be operating in time for this fall’s campaign.

“We began to imagine all sorts of possibilities,” Mr. Sherwood said. “As Cesar said, we began to dream some big dreams.”

The companies would not say how much money they will sink into the joint venture. Both said some of their current employees will be involved in putting the network together, and Mr. Sherwood said there would be some new hires.

Although the content is still being determined, the networks said lifestyle and entertainment programming will be included along with news.

The executives said they hope the network attracts non-Latinos interested in what issues are important to this demographic, along with the Latino audience.

“We believe it is important to act as a bridge between the Latino community and the overall population,” Mr. Conde said.

Disney and ABC Television Group Chairwoman Anne Sweeney said the venture is an important step in broadening ABC’s reach.

Parents council urges boycott of ‘America’s Got Talent’

As the clock ticks closer to Howard Stern’s much-hyped debut on “America’s Got Talent,” the Parents Television Council (PTC) is launching another attack on the polarizing radio host and reality-show judge.

Almost immediately after the shock jock officially joined the judges’ panel in December, the PTC slammed NBC, blasting the decision as “an act of desperation for a failing network.” Mr. Stern responded to the group’s complaints in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, who previously was a judge on “Talent.”

“Networks shudder for people like this,” he said at the time. “I guess they get their printer out and they make a letterhead and they start to complain that I’m some sort of weird pervert who is going to convert Americans into some kind of zombie sex fiends.”

Now comes news of a PTC letter to 91 of the show’s advertisers, urging a boycott of the NBC reality competition because of Mr. Stern. His controversial, unfiltered language and commentary remains the No. 1 source of concerns, with the organization quoting a remark he made about season-three “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino.

Representatives for Mr. Stern and NBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Stern’s co-judges, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne, defended him last month at NBC’s Summer Press Day, saying viewers would see a different side of the broadcaster. The seventh season of “America’s Got Talent” begins at 8 p.m. Monday, with promos putting Mr. Stern front and center.

“Yes, he’s edgy and honest, but he’s a very bright, smart man,” Mr. Mandel said. “Nobody gets to that height without knowing what they’re doing. He’s also compassionate, emotional, serious and has good constructive criticism. He’s a good judge.”

CBS warns ABC against airing ‘Big Brother’-like show

CBS is hoping a legal warning shot shatters rival network ABC’s plans for its reality show “The Glass House.”

Attorneys for CBS sent ABC executives a letter Friday warning that “The Glass House” is “strikingly” similar to CBS’ show “Big Brother.” The network notes that ABC may be benefiting from the fact that 18 former “Big Brother” staffers and executives are now working on the planned ABC show.

“The Glass House” would feature contestants who are constantly filmed and eliminated from a home they share, and viewers will be able to influence many of their actions, according to a description of the series released last week. “Big Brother,” which has aired on CBS since 2000, has similar features.

Attorneys for CBS noted that the former “Big Brother” staffers now working on the new show, including “Glass House” Executive Producer Kenny Rosen, all signed nondisclosure agreements and likely are violating them by working on the new series.

“In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone involved in the development or production of ‘Glass House’ that they will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed in this manner,” said the letter that was sent to ABC and later obtained by the Associated Press and other news outlets.

The letter states that CBS, which owns the U.S. licenses and copyrights to “Big Brother,” could sue ABC and block “The Glass House” from being broadcast. Previous cases involving copycat allegations in reality television have been difficult to win in court, but judges assess their merits after reviewing both products.

Epix wins rights to air ‘Avengers,’ ‘Hunger Games’

For the handful of people who don’t catch “The Avengers” or “The Hunger Games” during their record-breaking box office showings, both films will first land at Epix when arriving on television.

Epix — the multiplatform joint venture of Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures Corp. subdivision, MGM Studios Inc. and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. — announced Monday that it has secured first-run rights.

The news comes on the heels of “The Avengers’ ” gargantuan $207.1 million opening weekend and the other 2012 box office-champ “Hunger Games’ ” current global gross of $618 million.

As a part of the deal, both films will debut on the cable channel, its On Demand service, its website and across its multiple apps.

“Epix is all about providing its subscribers the biggest and best movies anytime and anywhere,” said Epix CEO and President Mark Greenberg. “We are thrilled to bring this year’s two biggest blockbuster titles to the Epix slate, providing even more value to our viewers and affiliated distributors. We congratulate our studio partners, Paramount and Lionsgate, on their tremendous success.”

Previously, ABC Family landed network TV rights to “The Hunger Games” and its upcoming sequel “Catching Fire.”

Compiled from Web and wire reports.

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