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Free Press Calls Telemundo Local News Expansion a 'Step Forward'

Free Press says Telemundo's just-unveiled expansion of local news and public affairs programming by 1,000 hours is "a welcome step forward," but policy counsel Corie Wright suggests it should have taken more steps in more directions.

In a statement to B&C/Multi, Wright said that Free Press was particularly pleased that the Denver station was "finally" getting a newscast, but that it hopes the news increases would be greater and in more markets. "No explanation has been given for why Spanish speaking residents in Boston, Las Vegas, San Jose, San Antonio, Fresno and Tucson do not also deserve more and better local content," said Wright. "Indeed, the stations in those six markets are the ones most in need of improvement in terms of serving their communities."

In an interview with B&C/Multi, Telemundo Stations President Ron Gordon said need determined who was getting what programming:

"In Denver we did not have any local news so we have added a newscast in partnership with KUSA. In New York, the market where we are number one in late news right now regardless of language, we added weekend news because we felt we really needed a seven-day-a -week news structure. Same thing with Dallas."

Free Press had been pressing Comcast and NBCU to provide details on the pledge of 1,000 additional hours that the FCC made a condition in their merger agreement. Gordon suggested agreeing to the condition was not much of a burden since he says the news expansion plans predated the deal.