Univision: Media Gigante Put On Notice
Over the weekend, I wrote that the Federal Communications Commission is readying to slap Spanish-language media giant Univision with a record $24 million fine for trying to pass off telenovelas as kids' programming.
Two things about this:
a) Univision's growing reach and potential influence over Spanish-speaking media consumers is unmatched in the Anglo media landscape and it is remarkable, really, that the FCC and the Department of Justice have allowed Univision to exist as it does. In any market where Univision owns a television station, for instance, it is likely to get 90 percent -- 90 percent! -- of the audience on a given night. Univision also owns the biggest Spanish-language radio chain and three music labels.
Here's how it would compare in the Anglo media world, which is closely policed by the FCC and media advocacy groups that worry about Big Media consolidation: Fox's "American Idol" gets 30 million viewers per episode. The No. 2 show after, often ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," will get about 25 million. If Fox were Univision and the pool of viewers was 100 million, "Idol" would get 90 million viewers and "Grey's" would get 10 million. To continue the analogy, Fox would also own Clear Channel's radio stations and Universal Music's many record labels. That feds would never allow that.
b) Spanish-language broadcasters (Univision, NBC Universal's Telemundo, Azteca) have gone largely unpoliced by the FCC. This could be the start of a crackdown, not only on programming requirements but also on indecency. The FCC has issued a couple of fines to Spanish-speaking radio stations for indecency, but it's rare. I have read the (translated) material, and it's as raunchy, if not more, than anything Howard Stern has been fined for.
Why has such a media giant flown largely under the radar? Some theories: Not enough people at the FCC speak Spanish. The Spanish-language audience is well-served by consolidation and does not mind. The audience is not offended by the potentially indecent material. The audience does not know how to file a complaint at the FCC.
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