Univision Defends Buying Hispanic Stations; Answers Critics Who Say Too Few Minorities Will Control Radio Broadcasting

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Baker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Univision Communications Inc. took out full-page advertisements in several newspapers this week to defend its purchase of a Spanish-language radio company, saying the deal will not place too much media power in non-Hispanic hands.

Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television company, announced plans last year to acquire Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., the largest owner of Spanish-language radio stations in the United States.

The deal is valued at between $2 billion and $3.5 billion. It has come under fire from two sides: a Hispanic Broadcasting rival who says the combined companies will be too big and controlled by non-Hispanics; and congressional Democrats, who fear it would lead to a conservative takeover of the nation's Spanish-language airwaves.

"Both points are in error," former Univision President Henry G. Cisneros wrote in an ad published in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Times, The Washington Post, the New York Times and other newspapers.

The ad, billed as an open letter from Mr. Cisneros to congressional leaders, marked the first time Univision has responded to the criticism. Mr. Cisneros, who is now chairman and chief executive of a San Antonio real estate company, wrote in the ad that he "knows the company well but is free from any financial stake" in the matter.

Stephanie Pillersdorf, a Univision spokeswoman, said: "We have been lax in responding to the falsehoods, but we're starting to fight back now. Much of the criticism leveled against us is just factually wrong."Univision owns two broadcast television networks, a cable channel and about 50 local stations. Its acquisition of Dallas-based Hispanic Broadcasting would give it more than 65 radio stations in many of the nation's largest cities.

The combined companies will control 91 percent of the nation's fast-growing Spanish-language market, and 6 percent of all media in the United States, according to David W. …