Spanish Stations Stock Up

While NBC’S owned television stations have received most of the ink for Comcast-NBCUniversal’s boffo commitment to local television, the sibling Telemundo owned station group has been quietly sharpening its local strategy too.

Earlier this month, local versions of Telemundo’s Sunday public affairs show Enfoque debuted in markets including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas. Early November also marked the relaunch of the station Websites, a system-wide rollout that will conclude before the year is over and will see the sites offering deeper and timelier content. Several stations are also launching new newscasts, such as the weekend program that will debut on New York flagship WNJU next year.

“It’s all part of our recommitment to localism,” says Telemundo stations president Ronald Gordon, who calls Comcast a “very willing partner” in Telemundo’s local efforts.

In August, Telemundo announced it was adding 1,000 hours of local news and public affairs programming over the next six months, including weekend news in Dallas and weekday news in Denver.

Comcast pledged its commitment to local broadcast television to the FCC while negotiating to have its merger with NBCUniversal approved, vowing to bring “thousands of additional hours of local news and information programming” to viewers of NBC’s and Telemundo’s stations.

The Telemundo group is adding at least a few dozen staffers, Gordon says, about 90% of them on the news and content side. The extra 1,000 hours of programming, across 14 stations (including KVEA Los Angeles, KTAZ Phoenix and WSCV Miami), builds on an existing 5,000.

Spanish-language rival Univision, with 19 full-power stations across the U.S., is substantially boosting its local presence as well. Univision’s Atlanta and Raleigh outlets debuted early evening news this year, while stations in Dallas and Houston are among the very few that go live with news at 4 a.m. Nine Univision owned stations air 5-7 a.m. newscasts, while seven of the markets, including New York and Los Angeles, extend the morning block on a TeleFutura sibling.

Earlier this year, Sandra Thomas was named to the new position of Univision senior director, local and affiliate news. Former CNN reporter Karl Penhaul joined Univision as a foreign correspondent in August, with his reportage now ! avoring local newscasts.

Back at Telemundo, the group will further hone its strategy at an NBC news summit, featuring principals from NBCUniversal’s wide range of news outlets, in Miami next month. “We’ll look at how to do things more effectively and how to best leverage our resources,” says Gordon. “We’ll look at ways to strengthen our entire news operation.”

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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.