FCC Approves Univision Deal

After Spanish Media Giant Agrees to Pay $24 Million Fine

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Communication Commission gave final approval for the nearly $12.3 billion deal taking Univision Communications private, but only after the Spanish media giant agreed to pay $24 million to settle charges its stations aired soap operas as children's shows, violating children's programming obligations.
One FCC commissioner expressed some concern about whether the companies buying Univision will have sufficient financial resources.
One FCC commissioner expressed some concern about whether the companies buying Univision will have sufficient financial resources.

The fine, the largest ever levied by the FCC, resulted from challenges to license renewals of Univision's Cleveland and San Francisco stations filed by the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. The groups argued that the Spanish-language teen telenovelas that Univision aired as children's programming weren't, in fact, children's programming. The fine had been disclosed earlier by FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin.

With this week's approval, the five firms making up Broadcasting Media Partners -- Saban Capital Group, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners -- were expected to make the acquisition final.

Broadcasting Media Partners announced in February that OMD Worldwide President-CEO Joe Uva will become Univision's CEO effective April 1.

Financial resources questioned
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, while approving the deal, expressed some concern about whether the companies buying Univision will have sufficient financial resources.

"It is quite significant that today's transaction involves the transfer of 114 full-power TV and radio licenses from a public corporation -- one whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is included in the S&P 500 -- to five private equity firms," he said.

"The Commission has never analyzed the consequences of this type of transaction for its ability to ensure that licensees protect, serve and sustain the public interest," Mr. Copps said. "I, for one, have some real questions about how the assumption of massive amounts of debt will affect a media company's stewardship of the airwaves."
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