Former Univision president Henry Cisneros, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, recently weighed in with a full-page letter -– sponsored by Univision – that ran in The Washington Post and The New York Times, disputing the claims by merger opponents.
"I saw no effort in my time at Univision or since to reflect any political bias in Univision's coverage of news and public affairs," he wrote, adding that while coverage of President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress has increased, "President Clinton appeared far more frequently than did GOP leaders during the 1990s."
Univision officials also point out that half of its board and 80 percent of its employees are Hispanic, and that the CEO of its primary affiliate owner – Entravision's Walter Ulloa – is Hispanic.
A major opponent to the deal is Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), a radio company that owns stations in several key Hispanic markets also served by HBC, including New York, Miami, and Texas. SBS has hired a group called the National Hispanic Policy Institute (NHPI) to lobby against the merger.
NHPI is run by New York state Sen. Efraín González, largely out of his legislative offices, and has been at the forefront of a battle of the press, sponsoring full-page ads in the major national newspapers and those serving Capitol Hill. The campaign came under fire after it claimed in a full-page ad in the political newspaper Roll Call that Mr. Perenchio was anti-Hispanic because he backed Proposition 187, California's controversial anti-illegal-immigration initiative, when he had not – and actually had donated funds to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to fight the measure.
Univision fought back, sponsoring a full-page ad featuring a letter from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson – another former Clinton administration official – urging Democrats to stop opposing the merger. The Miami Herald later pointed out that Mr. Richardson received $150,000 from Mr. Perenchio for his 2002 election campaign.
Much of the debate surrounding the merger has focused on whether Spanish-language media should be viewed as a distinct media market. If the FCC determines that U.S. Spanish-language media constitute a market separate from the nation's other media, then Univision's size relative to its competitors – Telemundo, the country's second-ranked Spanish-language television network, commands just 20 percent of the U.S. Spanish-TV audience, for instance – would seem to present a strong argument against the merger.
If, however, the FCC decides that Spanish-language media do not constitute a separate media market, a vote in favor of the merger would seem more likely. Proponents of the merger have pointed out that for all its dominance as a Spanish-language TV broadcaster, Univision accounts for just 5 percent of all primetime viewing and receives about 2 percent of all TV ad spending.
Federico Subervi, formerly a professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at University of Texas at Austin, says the argument put forth by Univision and other merger backers that Spanish-language TV does not constitute a separate media market contradicts the network's own message to prospective advertisers.
"For years Univision and its affiliates positioned themselves as a separate market to advertisers. Now that it's become an issue in the merger debate, they've completely changed their tune," says Mr. Subervi, now an independent media consultant.
Most Popular Stories
- Boehner Lashes Out Against Ted Cruz, Far Right
- Hawaii Official Who Release Obama Certificate Only Victim of Plane Crash
- Ted Cruz Coloring Book Selling Briskly
- Ford Plans New Cars, Jobs in 2014
- 'Rape Insurance' Bill Passes in Michigan
- Grizzly Bears Could Be Taken Off Endangered List
- Kim Jong Un's Uncle Executed
- Gold, Silver Slide on Prospects of Fed Exit
- Holiday Shopping Off to a Slow Start This Season
- Podesta Likely to Reject Keystone XL