Telemundo Group's takeover of bankrupt Latino news
network CBS TeleNoticias forms part of a cornerstone strategy to attack domestic rival
Univision Communications Inc. and springboard its business into Latin America.
Pending final approval, the United States' No. 2
Spanish-language broadcaster won the bid to buy TeleNoticias in a federal bankruptcy court
last week. The price was about $2.3 million, plus some other assumed costs.
The ailing network was formerly 30 percent-owned by CBS
Corp., which sold a majority 70 percent stake in the network to Mexican media group Grupo
Medcom S.A. about a year ago.
Telemundo executive vice president of news and information
programming Joe Peyronnin was bullish, saying the sale opened up "an exciting new era
for Telemundo. We are going to have some of the most experienced Spanish-language news
teams in the United States."
He did not reveal whether CBS TeleNoticias would be folded
into Telemundo to create one channel brand across the Americas or remain a separate
As things stand, Telemundo trails the resounding leader in
the U.S. Hispanic broadcasting business, Univision, which has an estimated 90 percent
share of that market.
TeleNoticias is actually returning to the Telemundo fold.
Telemundo owned a minority stake in the network between its inception in 1994 and June
1996. The other investors then were Reuters Latam News Inc., Artear Argentina Corp. and
Spain's Antena 3 International.
Telemundo's expectation is that the presence of
TeleNoticias in some 5 million broadcast and cable households in Latin America will
deliver an enviable entree in to a hitherto little-explored territory.
The company has scant details of how it plans to integrate
TeleNoticias into its existing programming formats on either side of the Rio Grande.
Telemundo chief operating officer Alan Sokol said the channel in Latin America "will
be what I will characterize as a news-information-talk-reality channel, more in the nature
of a CNBC than what it is currently."
The intention is to drop the CBS brand name immediately,
although a substitute moniker has not yet been announced.
Prior to the Telemundo takeover, TeleNoticias was known to
be struggling financially. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July after it failed to
meet its ongoing debt obligations. But clearly, the filing was not enough to stave off a
"Time was running out [for TeleNoticias], so we did an
evaluation, made a bid and worked out an agreement with its creditors," Peyronnin
said. Medcom executives were not available to comment.
Peyronnin confirmed that Telemundo paid a base price of
$2.3 million for the company's assets. But there were some other substantial costs
incurred, including a loan write-off, which he declined to put a price tag on.
It appeared that there were no other serious bidders for
Steve Donohue contributed to this article.
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