Telemundo to Co-Host First Presidential Primary Debate

Telemundo Chairman Cesar Conde had some big news for employees of the Spanish-language network.

The Democratic National Committee has tapped Noticias Telemundo to co-host the first presidential primary debate among what is shaping up to be a large field of candidates.

Conde says it is the first time in history that a Spanish-language outlet has co-hosted a Democratic primary debate.

"The choice is not by accident," he added. "Latinos have become a critical constituency for any aspiring political candidate in the United States, and Telemundo is the leading Hispanic network in the country," said Conde and Luis Fernandez, executive VP, Noticias Telemundo, in an internal memo to staffers obtained by B&C.

Related: Telemundo Stations Launch ‘University’ to Staff Newsrooms

The debate will be in June and cover two nights given the large—and enlarging—field. It will be broadcast in primetime on co-owned NBC, MSNBC and digital platforms.

"We can't think of a better way to kick off and lead the 2020 electoral cycle," said Conde. "We are living at a critical time that could redefine the role of the Hispanic community in our country. Our news department is doing an outstanding job, and it is important we continue to address the anxieties and fears with trustworthy, rigorous, relevant and accurate information.

"This win is the product of the hard work of a great team committed to serving its community. We thank you all for that." 

CNN will get the second debate—in July—which may also be in primetime over two nights, the DNC said.

The DNC also set a threshold for participation, again given the number of candidates likely to still be in the ring come spring.

Democratic candidates can qualify for the first—and second—debate by meeting one of the following criteria.

"Polling Method: Register 1% or more support in three polls (which may be national polls, or polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada) publicly released between Jan. 1, 2019, and 14 days prior to the date of the organization debate. Qualifying polls will be limited to those sponsored by one or more of the following organizations/institutions: Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Des Moines Register, Fox News, Las Vegas Review Journal, Monmouth University, NBC News, New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), Quinnipiac University, Reuters, University of New Hampshire, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Winthrop University. Any candidate’s three qualifying polls must be conducted by different organizations, or if by the same organization, must be in different geographical areas.

"Grassroots Fundraising Method: Candidates may qualify for the debate by demonstrating that the campaign has received donations from at least (1) 65,000 unique donors; and (2) a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states. To demonstrate that the fundraising threshold has been reached, candidates must provide verifiable evidence, which they may do by authorizing ActBlue and/or NGP VAN to provide that evidence."

John Eggerton

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.