The Univision Blackout Is About Money

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By Jon Healey, Los Angeles Tmes

The Spanish-language television network Univision is back on cable TV in Los Angeles after a two-day blackout, thanks to a temporary restraining order issued by a judge in New York.

Some consumer advocates argued that the blackout — caused by a contract dispute between Univision and cable TV operator Charter Communications — denied Latinos a news source they depended on to keep track of the developments in Washington that were dramatically affecting their communities. They wanted government to intervene because of, well, Trump.

There’s certainly a whiff of Trump conspiracy theories in the air. Witness this comment by 92-year-old Cypress Park resident Lorenza Muniz after she discovered Univision’s local channel, KMEX, had been blacked out on her Charter Spectrum cable service: “Is this Trump?” The Times quoted her saying to her son. “Is he doing this so Mexicanos don’t get any information?”

The ability to tune in TV signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow.

Local TV stations have long occupied a special place in American society. Their role as a conduit of information was seen as so important, they were granted the exclusive use of extremely valuable airwaves for free. But the ability to tune in those signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow. Television broadcasts are a product, competing with other products and trying to extract the best price from their customers.

There was a time when there were relatively few TV signals available — three major broadcast networks and a handful of local UHF stations — and a limited number of other news sources. (As a writer for a newspaper that went bankrupt not too long ago, I view those days as the Golden Age, and if making America great again meant restoring my industry to its pre-Internet dominance, I would have been all for it.) This is decidedly not that time.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone “depends” or “relies” on Charter’s Univision feed for news. There is one other major Spanish-language network — Telemundo, owned by Comcast‘s NBC Universal subsidiary — and at least four independent local Spanish language broadcasters in Southern California. There are plenty of Spanish-language radio stations, two daily Spanish-language newspapers and an assortment of Spanish-language weeklies.

Add to that countless Internet feeds, including Univision’s $6-a-month Univision NOW, as well as at least two satellite-TV alternatives to Charter (AT&T’s DirecTV and Dish), and you’ve got an extremely healthy market for news and information.

It’s not in Univision’s interest to publicize this fact. The more it’s seen as vital or even irreplaceable, the more pressure there will be on Charter to pay higher fees to carry Univision’s stable of TV channels.

That, after all, is the real subject of this dispute, which began when Charter bought Time Warner Cable. Charter and TWC had different contracts with Univision — TWC, which had more customers, had negotiated lower fees. Univision insisted that the merged company negotiate a new deal, but Charter decided simply to pay the fees called for in TWC’s contract. Univision sued and set a Jan. 31 deadline; when the deadline passed without a deal, the network demanded that Charter stop retransmitting the two over-the-air and three cable channels it controls.

They play hardball in the TV business. That’s why blackouts happen across the country every few months; it’s why most Angelenos still can’t watch Dodger games on TV. This case is a little different because it boils down to how existing contracts should be interpreted, which is the kind of thing courts are often asked to resolve. But the core issue, as with every battle between pay-TV operators and networks, is how much the channel’s content is worth.

That’s something the market — that is, TV viewers — should decide, not the government. And if companies like Univision win every one of these disputes, cable bills will just keep going up and up and up. Which is not to say that Univision is wrong in this particular battle; that depends on whether Charter isn’t paying the price it agreed to pay.

The two sides have about a week to work out a deal before the restraining order lifts and the blackout resumes. Consumers shouldn’t stand idly by in the meantime. They can make their feelings known about Univision’s value by calling Charter and threatening to cancel their subscriptions unless it retains Univision — or tuning en masse to other channels.

Your Editor Comments: No confundan la magnesia con la gimnasia 

Carlos Slim To Launch TV Channel ‘For Mexicans By Mexicans’ In The U.S.

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The strategy is to target 35 million Mexican-Americans by offering “100% Mexican content” made by Mexicans. “Because we know their preferences, customs, entertainment and …

Rapid TV News

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s cell-phone company, America Movil, will launch a television channel in the United States targeting Mexican audiences later this year, putting it into competition with broadcasters like Univision and Telemundo.

Named Nuestra Vision, the channel will be offered by the America Movil unit Publicidad y Contenido Editorial, the company said in a statement that was flanked by a promotional video online.

“Nuestra Vision is focused on Mexicans, made by Mexicans and transmitted from Mexico,” said the voice-over for the video, which was studded with images and snapshots of Mexico.

Slim, a major force in pay TV in Latin America, has been kept out of the Mexican market by regulators wary of the financial muscle he can bring to bear from his telecoms empire.

America Movil is the biggest cell phone company in Latin America, and helped to make Slim the richest man in the world for several years.

Univision has a close alliance with Mexico’s top broadcaster Televisa, which has for years wrestled with Slim in the Mexican telecommunications market that he dominates.

Nuestra Vision – “Our Vision” – will broadcast news, movies and sports highlights, America Movil said, stressing the company’s pledge to be “100%” Mexican and promote Mexico’s heritage.

The channel’s launch coincides with a charged atmosphere between Mexico and the incoming U.S. president Donald Trump, who has taken an aggressive stance towards the Mexican economy and sparked dismay with outspoken comments on migrants.

Trump has proposed taking punitive steps against producers of Mexican-made goods in an effort to bring jobs and investment back to the United States, and has also threatened to tear up a joint trade deal that underpins Mexico’s export model.

Slim was critical of Trump during the U.S. election campaign, but after meeting the New York real estate magnate for dinner last month, he was left was a “very positive” impression from the President-elect, the Mexican mogul’s spokesman said.

An estimated 35 million people living in the United States are Mexican or of Mexican background.

Your Editor Announces:  Slim vs Azcárraga in our marketplace.  Fun to watch

Telemundo Films Launching With Eva Longoria’s ‘Lowriders’

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By Dave McNary

NBCU Telemundo Enterprises is launching Telemundo Films to develop, produce, and market feature films in English and Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic market.

The unit, to be led by Telelmundo Network President Luis Silberwasser, will launch with the movie “Lowriders,” in partnership with Imagine Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions’ BH Tilt, and Universal Pictures. The film, which will debut on May 12, stars Eva Longoria, Demian Bichir, Melissa Benoist, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, and Gabriel Chavarria.

“Lowriders” opened the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The drama focuses on the dynamics of a fractured family in East Los Angeles and centers on the world of customizing classic cars.

“Telemundo Films will allow us to leverage our expertise to expand our entertainment business into a new genre of storytelling,” said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “We are excited to kick off this new venture in partnership with Imagine, Blumhouse, and Universal Pictures, and look forward to working with them to serve the vibrant movie-going Hispanic market.”

Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, “Lowriders” was produced by Brian Grazer and Jason Blum. The release will be handled by BH Tilt, Blumhouse’s releasing label that utilizes specialized distribution and marketing strategies for films that serve specific audiences.

Thursday’s announcement noted that Hispanic moviegoers generated an estimated $2.6 billion in 2015. It also said that while Hispanics represent 17% of the population, they accounted for 23% of tickets sold. The demographic shows its strongest preference for action and adventure, followed by comedy and suspense.

Additionally, viewership of Telemundo has been on the upswing in the past few years and so the brand has more value as a marketing vehicle now.

Your Editor Champions: Both languages define us. Thursdays: 

Carlos Slim Is Launching a ‘100%’ Mexican TV Channel in the U.S

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Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s cell-phone company, America Movil, said last week it would launch a television channel in the United States targeting Mexican audiences, putting it into competition with broadcasters like Univision and Telemundo.

Named Nuestra Vision, the channel will be offered by the America Movil unit Publicidad y Contenido Editorial, the company said in a statement that was flanked by a promotional video online.

“Nuestra Vision is focused on Mexicans, made by Mexicans and transmitted from Mexico,” said the voice-over for the video, which was studded with images and snapshots of Mexico.

Slim, a major force in pay TV in Latin America, has been kept out of the Mexican market by regulators wary of the financial muscle he can bring to bear from his telecoms empire.

America Movil is the biggest cell phone company in Latin America, and helped to make Slim the richest man in the world for several years.

Univision has a close alliance with Mexico’s top broadcaster Televisa, which has for years wrestled with Slim in the Mexican telecommunications market that he dominates.

Nuestra Vision – “Our Vision” – will broadcast news, movies and sports highlights, America Movil said, stressing the company’s pledge to be “100%” Mexican and promote Mexico’s heritage.

The channel’s launch coincides with a charged atmosphere between Mexico and the incoming U.S. president Donald Trump, who has taken an aggressive stance towards the Mexican economy and sparked dismay with outspoken comments on migrants.

Trump has proposed taking punitive steps against producers of Mexican-made goods in an effort to bring jobs and investment back to the United States, and has also threatened to tear up a joint trade deal that underpins Mexico’s export model.

Slim was critical of Trump during the U.S. election campaign, but after meeting the New York real estate magnate for dinner last month, he was left was a “very positive” impression from the President-elect, the Mexican mogul’s spokesman said.

An estimated 35 million people living in the United States are Mexican or of Mexican background

Your Editor Foresees: The Spanish-language TV battles in the U.S. will run through Mexico

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