(in Spanish, Univisión), the largest Spanish language television
network in the United States with more than 600 affiliates, has
historical roots in Mexican broadcasting. Since 1992, Univision
has been owned by a consortium headed by Jerry Perenchino, an entertainment
financier who once owned a New Jersey Spanish language television
station. Twenty-five% of the network is owned by Venevision, a Venezuelan
media company, another 25% by the Mexican entertainment conglomerate,
Televisa, the largest producer of Spanish language television programming
in the world.
structural configuration is often viewed as but a marginal variation
in Televisa's long-standing domination of U.S. Spanish language
television. The majority of Univision programming is produced in
Mexico, by Televisa, as it has been since the first Spanish language
television stations were established in the United States in 1961.
The network was then called SIN, the Spanish International Network.
In 1986 the FCC found SIN to be in violation of the U.S. law that
prohibits foreign ownership of U.S. broadcast stations. Televisa
was ordered to divest itself of its U.S. subsidiary and SIN was
sold to Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri, and renamed Univision.
Hallmark ownership, about half of Univision programming was Televisa
rebroadcasts (telenovelas or soap operas, sports, movies and variety
programming), and half was produced in the United States. The U.S.
produced programming, which included a telenovela, a situation comedy
and greatly expanded national U.S. news and public affairs programming,
proved popular with U.S. Latino audiences. Nonetheless, between
1986 and 1992, Hallmark, which had financed its purchase of the
Spanish language network with junk bonds, was unable to recover
its initial investment in Univision. In 1992 Hallmark sold the network
to the Perenchino group, which prominently featured Televisa. Among
the new owners' first moves was the firing of about a third of the
network's Miami based staff. This resulted in the cancellation of
most of the U.S. produced programs, and the recreation of a broadcast
day largely comprised of Televisa programs.
Univision has been at the forefront of the creation of a national
"Hispanic Market," the notion that U.S. Latinos are an attractive,
commercially viable market segment, and so an audience that advertisers
should attempt to reach. Previous to the mid-1980s the Hispanic
population was configured as three markets: Puerto Rican in the
eastern United States, Cuban in south Florida and Mexican in the
southwest. Advertising agencies, accordingly, produced three separate
Spanish language advertising campaigns. Univision's extensive market
and audience research persuaded Madison Avenue that these three
audiences should be considered one national audience. This effort
was given a major boost by the Hispanic Nielsen Survey, a specially
designed methodology for measuring U.S. Spanish language television
audiences, commissioned by Univision and Telemundo, and implemented
by the A.C. Nielsen company in the early 1990s. This new audience
measurement system found a U.S. Spanish language television audience
30 to 40% larger than had previously been identified.
research conducted by Univision shows that most of its audience
are recent Latin American immigrants. Another group is made up of
those who have lived in the United States for years, who, because
of a myriad of factors, prefer to view television in the Spanish
language. Most of these immigrant audience members are from Mexico,
though an increasing proportion are Central American. A smaller
portion of the Univision audience are more acculturated, bilingual
U.S. Latinos, a generally wealthier group much sought after by network
planners. Overall, Univision research shows that about 70% of the
Univision audience is Mexican or Mexican American, 10% each Puerto
Rican and Cuban-American, with the remainder from other Latin American
most watched Univision programs are Televisa telenovelas,
serialized melodramas which, in contrast to U.S. soap operas, usually
end after two or three months. Also, notably present in the Univision
top ten (at number 6) is the nightly U.S. national newscast, the
Noticiero Univisión. Apparently the Univision immigrant audience,
while maintaining its links to "the old country" through the traditional
telenovelas, is also seeking out knowledge of its adopted U.S. home.
Each year the U.S. Spanish speaking audience has more television
programs to choose amongst. Telemundo, another U.S. Spanish language
television network founded in 1986, has grown to several hundred
affiliates. Galavision and Showtime en Espanol, two premium cable
channels, as well as several regional Spanish language cable networks,
including Spanish language ESPN and MTV, are challenging Univision's
previously uncontested hold on U.S. Spanish language television.
Courtesy of Univision
Adalberto, Jr. "Critical Notes Regarding the Dislocation of Chicanos
by the Spanish-language Television Industry in the United States."
Ethnic and Racial Studies (New York), January 1993.
Edmund L. "FCC Clears Hallmark Sale of Univision TV Network."
New York Times, 1 October 1992.
Patricia E. Spanish-language Television and the 1988 Presidential
Elections: A Case Study of "Dual-Identity" of Ethnic Minority Media.
(Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1993).
Geoffrey. "Nielsen Expands Hispanic TV Ratings." Broadcasting
& Cable (Washington, D.C.),8 August 1994.
Christy. "Ratings Worth $40 Million? Networks Have No Doubts."
Advertising Age (New York), 24 January 1994.
"Hispanic Networks Building Up Steam; Ad Rates Seen Rising." Television-Radio
Age (New York), 27 November 1989.
Rick. "The Year Belongs to Univision." Hispanic Business
(Santa Barbara, California), December 1994.
America. Made in the USA: The Constructions of Univision News.
(Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California, San Diego, 1993).
Gustavo. "Tuning In To Cultural Diversity." Americas (Washington,
D.C.), July-August 1990.
Samuel. "The Latin Superchannels." World Press Review (New
York), November 1991.
Waters, Harry F. "The New Voice of America." Newsweek (New
York), 12 June 1989.