Jim McNamara Replaced by NBC Veteran Don Browne

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NEW YORK ( -- Jim McNamara, the president-CEO of NBC Universal-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo, is leaving the company Friday and will be replaced by Don Browne, the network's chief operating officer for the last two years.
Jim McNamara had been with Telemundo for six years.

Contract expires
Mr. McNamara's departure has been widely rumored because his contract expires this year and no new deal had been negotiated.

Mr. Browne joined Telemundo in May 2003 as chief operating officer from NBC. Before Telemundo, he was president and general manager of NBC's owned and operated station in Miami, the first to work closely with a Telemundo channel in the same market. He was first based in Miami as NBC's bureau chief there from 1979-89, then moved to New York as executive vice president of NBC News.

Telemundo and NBC in a joint statement said Mr. Browne was a key member of the NBC team involved in NBC's acquisition of Telemundo for $2.7 billion in 2002, becoming the first major U.S. network to add a Spanish-language channel.

Reversed failing strategy
The statement also said Mr. McNamara "has stepped down to pursue outside production opportunities." Mr. McNamara joined Telemundo six years ago as president-CEO, when the network was owned by Sony's Columbia Tri-Star and Liberty Media and was struggling with a failing strategy of re-making popular 1970s shows like Charlie's Angels in Spanish.

Under Mr. McNamara, a very popular executive who grew up in Panama and speaks fluent Spanish, Telemundo boosted ratings by returning to original Spanish-language programming, either imported from South America or more recently made by Telemundo itself. For the last two years, Telemundo has been making all its own prime-time programming, including novelas.

Stiff competition
Despite NBC's support for Telemundo, rival Univision Communications still dominates the market with about 80% of Hispanic viewers and ad dollars. Two years ago Univision launched a second network, TeleFutura, which has almost overtaken Telemundo in audience share. And another rival, Azteca America, owned by Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster TV Azteca, is gaining distribution in the U.S. Hispanic market.

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