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Univision’s KMEX Retools Early-Morning News

KMEX-TV in Los Angeles, Univision’s most important owned-and-operated station, is doubling down on news and entertainment as the sun rises each weekday.

Just don’t call it a rebranding.

As of June 1, KMEX will ai0r A Primera Hora from 5 a.m.-7 a.m., leading in to Despierta América, the network’s hugely popular morning show.

A Primera Hora will feature segments on such topics as lifestyle, culture, entertainment, community affairs and technology, in addition to straight-ahead news, traffic and weather, a Univision spokesperson said.

The show will be led by co-hosts Gabriela Teissier, Cecilia Bogran and Annabelle Sedano, who remain from KMEX’s previous early-morning news offering, Primera Edición. One key difference: The anchors “will discuss everyday life experiences.” Another anchor who’s staying on with the change, Alejandro Mendoza, will lead the news segment. Erika Flores will handle on-the-scene remotes.

Among the other programming enhancements, A Primera Hora will include youth-focused segments such as “Lideres del Futuro” (Leaders of the Future); “Tu Espacio 34” (Your Space 34), about local high school clubs; and “YouTube-Eros” featuring internet sensations between the ages of 10 and 18 who are “captivating online viewers with unique content,” Univision said.

Another way A Primera Hora will be modeled like Despierta América comes in the form of product placement opportunities, which are now available to potential brand partners.

A Primera Hora will be a dynamic morning show that promises to entertain and engage audiences across generations while providing tools and information to empower and help them achieve their goals,” Marco Flores, news director and regional director, West Coast, for Univision, said in a prepared statement. “The show will be a reflection of our diverse community, our culture and lifestyle.”

Luis Patiño, senior vice president and general manager for KMEX, added, “Our audience is vocal about what they want to see, and this new show speaks to young Hispanics by delivering programming that is entertaining, informative and empowering.”

The push for Latino teens and young adults at 5 a.m. is rather unusual, as morning programs have traditionally focused on adult viewers craving the latest headlines, freeway updates and sports and weather updates. It also pits KMEX not only against its Spanish-language and English-language TV competitors, but also the many Spanish-language and English-language radio stations consumed by Latino teens and young adults in morning drive.

The retooling of KMEX’s early morning local news program comes following the October 2013 expansion of Noticiero Telemundo 52: Buenos Días Los Angeles to two hours, adding the 5 a.m/ hour. At the time, Julio Vaqueiro came on board to join Dunia Elvir as co-anchors, while Estafania Iglesias was named traffic and weather reporter.

The move paid off for Telemundo: In last November’s Nielsen sweeps, KVEA finished at No. 1 among total viewers aged 18-34 at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., beating KMEX as well as KABC, KCBS, KNBC, Fox’s KTTV and The CW’s KTLA. The newscasts were also No. 1 among all viewers aged 18-49 and 25-54.