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FCC Approval of the Univision-HBC Merger

In 2003, the FCC approved a huge merger that put eighty percent of Spanish-language news, entertainment, and advertising revenues in the hands of one company.  Univision, America's dominant Spanish-language TV network merged with the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC), the largest Spanish-language radio network.

Univision's Post-Merger Holdings

After merging with HBC, Univision stood to own the following:

  • Galavision – the top Spanish-language cable network in the nation
  • The top Spanish-language Internet portal
  • A half-dozen Latin-American music companies, including the biggest record company in Mexico
  • One-third of Entravision, a Spanish-language media company that was a major competitor with HBC.

The ownership and control goes even further: Televisa, the biggest Mexican TV network, owns twenty percent of Univision.  As of April 2002, it also owned 50% of the biggest Hispanic concert and event production companies in the U.S., formerly owned by Clear Channel.  Clear Channel owns almost thirty percent of HBC. 

The FCC did require as a condition of the merger that Univision divest some of its ownership of Entravision, but opponents still fear that Univision will be able to exert control within Entravision, further damaging Spanish-language media competition. 

The Merger Creates a Spanish-Language Conglomerate

Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America expressed concern about the impact the merger would have on competition in the Spanish-language media market.  Other organizations, such as the National Caucus of Hispanic State Elected Officials; National Association of Hispanic Publications and the National Hispanic Policy Institute were among those that protested the merger.  These groups were primarily concerned about the lack of competition and the creation of a near-monopoly in Spanish language media.

On the other hand, several leading Hispanic groups, and prominent officials supported the merger including Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.  Proponents of the merger said that this ownership would allow Spanish-language media to compete with other media giants – like Disney/ABC and Viacom/CBS.  The Columbia Journalism Review closely tracks who these media giants are and what they own.

To learn about other media ownership issues, read What's at Stake. Take Action to protect diversity, localism and competition.  And see who's working on these issues in your community -- and across America -- and Get Involved.

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