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Univision Seeks Retrans Riches

Top-ranked Hispanic broadcaster Univision Communications unveiled a strategy Monday to opt for retransmission-consent payments from multichannel-TV platforms instead of electing for must-carry.

Univision, which was acquired for $12 billion by a consortium of private-equity firms in March 2007, clearly hopes for cash fees from cable, satellite and telco video platforms.

“This decision means that Univision Communications will negotiate the terms of its carriage agreements, which is consistent with every other major network and a standard business practice in our industry,” executive vice president of distribution sales and marketing Tonia O’Connor said in a statement.

Univision’s most recent 10K disclosure filing said Jan. 1, 2009, is the date when many existing must-carry deals will become retransmission-consent pacts.

Its shift comes as other broadcasters that previously talked up retransmission-consent income have lowered expectations.

“Obviously, with each cable operator, depending on the number of subs and what other businesses we have with them and where we're stronger or not, we will determine an appropriate rate,” CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves told an investors’ conference May 29. He added that not all deals will be a lofty 50 cents per subscriber, per month.