ALINA FALCON, UNIVISION NETWORK

Creating a Hispanic News-Gathering Powerhouse

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Alina Falcon built up Univision’s news division into the premiere Spanish-language news gathering operation for the U.S. Hispanic market, creating stars like anchorman Jorge Ramos and winning the first national Emmy for Spanish-language news.

Alina Falcon, executive vice president and general manager of Univision Network.
In mid-2002, Ms. Falcon took over Univision’s new 24-hour network TeleFutura when the original head, Antonio Oquendo, suddenly died of a heart attack several months after the launch. In her two-and-a-half years as vice president and operating manager, the fledgling network came close to catching up in viewership with the No. 2 Spanish-language network, NBC Universal-owned Telemundo, though Telemundo is still far ahead in ad revenue.

“At TeleFutura, she has orchestrated the development of one of America’s fastest-growing broadcast networks,” Ray Rodriguez, president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, said in a statement announcing Ms. Falcon’s promotion in February.

Her biggest marketing challenge
Now, as executive vice president and operating manager of the main Univision Network, Ms. Falcon sees her biggest marketing challenge as making sure “more advertisers not only advertise on our network but also give us a bigger share of their advertising dollars. The numbers are there: ratings, the census figures, Hispanic buying power.”

She has the responsibility for maintaining the momentum at the network that captures the biggest share of Spanish-language viewers and ad dollars. Univision is largely responsible for the astonishing growth in Spanish-language TV over the last five years, stealing viewers from English-language networks. So far this year, 58% of Hispanic adults aged 18-34 are watching prime-time Spanish-language TV, up from 53% a year ago and just 48% five years ago, according to Univision.

Ms. Falcon, 44, started as a news producer right out of college more than 20 years ago in Miami, where she grew up as a Cuban-American, and rose to director of the news division.

“It was great training for general management of a network,” she says. “You’re used to stressful situations, deadlines, and instantaneous and difficult decisions.”

Women in the ranks at Univision
Although there are many women in the ranks behind her -- Univision says 41% of all its managers are female, and she considers herself “one of many” -- Ms. Falcon is the highest-ranking woman at the broadcaster. Colleagues say one of the most remarkable things about her is that she genuinely listens intently to what people say.

“We really see our job here as more of a mission,” Ms. Falcon says. With her news background, she feels acutely the responsibility to inform and be of service as well as to entertain. “Our competition isn’t just Spanish-language TV,” she says. “It’s all TV.”

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