Univision Hires AOL Exec to Run Digital Unit

Kevin Conroy Comes in Amid Thorny Dispute With Televisa

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Univision Communications has hired former AOL executive Kevin Conroy to run the Spanish-language-media group's digital business, a post that has been vacant for the past nine months, since Javier Saralegui left suddenly in April 2008.

Kevin Conroy
Kevin Conroy
Mr. Conroy will start his new job Jan. 12 as president of Univision Interactive Media (formerly Univision Online). The division includes Univision.com, the most-visited U.S. Spanish-language website, and the company's mobile-marketing business, Univision Movil.

Before joining Univision, Mr. Conroy spent eight years at AOL, most recently as exec VP-global products and marketing, where he oversaw marketing, distribution models and partnerships, and mobile and other products in 30 countries including the U.S.

Cesar Conde, Univision's exec VP-chief strategy officer, has served as interim president of the digital division since Mr. Saralegui left. Univision was believed to be looking for a Hispanic executive to fill the job. Mr. Saralegui was put in charge of Univision's new online effort in 1999, after building Univision-owned Galavision into the leading Hispanic cable channel.

Televisa lawsuit
Univision is currently in court defending a lawsuit brought by Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa. The trial started Jan. 6, and Televisa is trying to prove material breaches in order to get out of a long-term programming agreement to supply programs to Univision. About 40% of Univision's programs, including top-rated telenovelas, come from Televisa.

Another area of dispute between Univision and Televisa is U.S. digital rights to the Televisa shows acquired by Univision. That issue won't be covered in the jury trial, but if the programming agreement is still in force after it's over, the digital-rights issue will be decided by the judge alone.

Televisa says it should have the right to target U.S. Hispanics with online programming. But Univision claims the long-term programming agreement covers all broadcast media, even though digital media didn't exist when the deal was signed, in 1992. Right now, only a version of Televisa's website, esmas.com, that strips out all the video material can be seen in the U.S. And Univision.com's coverage of Televisa's popular novelas doesn't include video.

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