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EXCLUSIVE: Telemundo to Add 1,000 Hours of News by January

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Gordon: Telemundo Plates News 'Feast'

In a wide-ranging expansion, Spanish language TV broadcaster Telemundo will unveil its plans this week for adding 1,000 hours of news and local public affairs programming to its dozen owned television stations within the next six months, according to a copy of those plans obtained by B&C/Multichannel News.

That figure includes new weekend local newscasts in New York and Dallas and weekday news in Denver.

NBC signaled back in May that it would outline its game plan for Telemundo’s news expansion in the summer, and it is expected to deliver on that promise with an announcement Aug. 8.

Ron Gordon, Telemundo station president told B&C the planned multimillion- dollar ramp-up predates the raft of public interest pledges Comcast made in order to secure government approval of its purchase of Telemundoparent NBCUniversal.

“We had made over the past few years a recommitment to our local stations for local news in particular, and this has been in the plans for several years now,” Gordon told B&C. “We were very willing to make [the commitment] because it was the right thing for us to do, the right thing for our stations, the right thing for our community, and the right thing for our business.”

One of the voluntary commitments the Federal Communications Commission made enforceable during negotiations was: “Comcast-NBCU’s O&O NBC and Telemundo stations...will provide thousands of additional hours of local news and information programming to their viewers.” The expansion plan “absolutely” delivers on that promise, says Gordon.

Telemundo’s additional 1,000 hours will increase the station group’s local news and public affairs programming output by more than 25% and will be added in stages that began back in June and will now continue through January, 2012.

The additional hours will include new morning, weekday and weekend newscasts and public affairs programs that will, among other things, encourage civic engagement in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Telemundo will also make a multimillion- dollar investment in upgrading to local HD news production over the next six months.

The news expansion essentially began with the June 13 launch of Buenos Dias Los Angeles (Telemundo already had a BuenosDias Miami), a Monday-Friday local and world news hour-long program tailored to Hispanics in Southern California. Telemundo could eventually be saying Buenos Dias in New York and Chicago, says Gordon.

The rest of the rollout schedule is as follows:

September 2011: Monthly public affairs programs will begin launching in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix, with a weekly program debuting in Puerto Rico. Telemundo describes the programming as helping viewers understand “the key role played by Latinos in our country.” It will also stress the importance of participation in the political process as the 2012 election season approaches.

October 2011: KDEN Denver will premiere a pair of weekday, half-hour newscasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

January 2012: By this month, KTMD Houston will launch a local version of Buenos Dias Houston, featuring a format modeled on Buenos Dias Los Angeles, including local, national and world news, weather and traffic reports and special segments tailored to the unique interests of Houston’s Latino community.

Also by January, half-hour local weekend newscasts will launch at 6 and 11 p.m. on WNJU New York, KXTX Dallas, KTMD Houston and WKAQ Puerto Rico.

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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.