In an NYT article celebrating the ratings of the Univision Spanish-language television network, there are a few nuggets of a more interesting story about Diversity. First, though, the stuff you’ve heard a million times already:
Biggest Scorer in World Cup? Maybe Univision
By JONATHAN MAHLER JULY 12, 2014
… With the finals still to come on Sunday — featuring a Latin American team for the first time in 12 years — Univision has already drawn roughly 80 million viewers, or about 60 percent more than it logged for the 2010 tournament.
The numbers serve as a kind of exclamation point on the sharp growth of America’s Hispanic population over the last two decades. It is a demographic shift that has been apparent in voting trends and employment patterns. Now the World Cup has shown how it is reshaping the media landscape too. …
But then it slowly gets more interesting, but only if you’ve been paying very close attention to Univision over the years. Emphasis in bold in following excerpt is by me:
The unprecedented exposure that it has received from the World Cup could not have come at a better time for Univision. The company is owned by a group of investors led by the media mogul Haim Saban, who is perhaps best known for importing the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to America from Japan. During a private equity boom in 2007, his group acquired Univision for $13.7 billion in a bidding war orchestrated by the company’s largest shareholder and former chairman, A. Jerrold Perenchio. Mr. Perenchio, a onetime Hollywood agent, saw the potential of Spanish-language television in 1992, when he bought Univision for just $500 million.
… “We’re seen as a Spanish-language broadcaster that mostly competes with Telemundo,” the company’s chief executive, Randy Falco, said. “But in my view, we should be competing with the English-language networks because increasingly we will have an audience that will surpass them.”
Mr. Falco, who took over at Univision three years ago [from Joe Uva] after senior positions at NBC and AOL, embodies the company’s desire to be seen as a mainstream media company. He is a 60-year-old Bronx native who does not speak Spanish.
Has anybody in charge of Univision — lead owner or CEO — ever spoken Spanish? I don’t know if lead owner Haim Saban has picked up any Spanish over the years, but he was born in Cairo and is an Israeli citizen, so he probably didn’t study Spanish in school. (I can’t find any evidence online that Saban speaks Ladino.) The previous owner Jerry Perenchio is an Italian-American. Saban’s first CEO after he bought Univision from Perenchio was Joe Uva. From a 2007 Fortune article:
That job falls to new CEO Joe Uva, who most recently ran ad-buying agency OMD. Like his predecessor, Perenchio, Uva doesn’t speak Spanish …
Perenchio, a veteran Republican benefactor, was the biggest donor against Ron Unz’s 1998 Proposition 227 campaign to restrict bilingual education in California public schools in favor of English immersion. Perenchio wanted American public schools to continue to churn out students who would be more comfortable listening to Spanish-language programming rather than English-language programming.
Saban, a veteran Democratic benefactor, was a massive donor to the campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Univision CEO Uva was fired in 2011 and replaced by Falco. The NYT reported at the time:
Mr. Uva had one significant disadvantage in the position: he did not speak Spanish. Neither does Mr. Falco.
Maybe not speaking Spanish is not a bug, but a feature in a Univision honcho. Univision is embarrassing enough to watch with the sound off, but perhaps being also able to understand what your employees are saying would be too depressing?
More on former Univision CEO Joe Uva, from a 2010 press release:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Joe Uva, President and CEO of Univision Communications, Inc., will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 35th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Uva will receive the NIAF One America Award on October 23, 2010 at the Washington Hilton. The black-tie event begins with a 6 p.m. reception followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.
The NIAF One America Award is presented for exemplary service in promoting unity, lifting communities, and building bridges across cultural lines in our nation. Throughout his life and career, Uva has worked to break down barriers, promote and celebrate the culture and values of the diverse communities living in the U.S.
… Uva is a second generation Italian American, his paternal grandparents were from Fontana Rosa in Avellino and his maternal grandparents were from San Giorgio del Sannio a in Benevento.
Born and raised in Westchester County, N.Y., he is a graduate of Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose and the State University of New York at Albany and currently resides in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Tickets to the October 23rd gala begin at $400 per person.