Initial Asking Price Was $3 Billion

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The deal NBC announced today to buy the No. 2 U.S. Spanish-language TV network Telemundo Communications Group propels NBC into the only media niche that is currently growing.

NBC is paying $1.98 billion in cash and stock and will assume Telemundo's debt of about $700 million.

Although rival network Univision dominates Hispanic media with an average 75% share of Spanish-language TV network viewing, Telemundo has boosted both ratings and ad dollars in the last two years under President-CEO Jim McNamara, who is staying with the network.

Anticipate 20% growth
Mr. McNamara said he anticipates almost 20% growth this year and a minimum of 20% growth next year.

"You can't get away from the massive growth story in the Hispanic market and how underrepresented it is in the ad market," he said. "That gap alone is going to drive our growth rate for five to 15 years."

Mr. McNamara said that at any time 6% to 10% of TVs are tuned to either Univision or Telemundo, but only 1% to 2% of ad dollars are going to Hispanic media.

Had been on the market
Telemundo has been shopping itself around, initially looking for $3 billion, a price that became even more unlikely after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The deal was no surprise. CBS late night talk show host Craig Kilborn recently poked fun at the deal by displaying what he claimed was the new NBC logo: the peacock colors with a chihuahua's head in the middle.

Bob Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and chairman-CEO of NBC, said that Telemundo's revenue will total about $400 million this year. He said he hopes that in its first full year as part of GE, Telemundo will contribute incremental revenue of about $600 million.

NBC executives and Mr. McNamara said the two networks will work together on programming, integrating national sales efforts and network cross promotion.

NBC is buying Telemundo from Sony Pictures Entertainment, owner of a 40% stake; Liberty Media, which controls 35%; and a group of financial investors.

The Telemundo deal also includes a newly relaunched cable network, Mun2 (pronounced "mundos," the Spanish word for "worlds").

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