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Univision ends JV with ABC, launches Fusion Media Group

Univision ends JV with ABC, launches Fusion Media Group

Univision-ABC-FusionAfter months of reports that ABC was looking to exit its Fusion joint venture with Univision, both companies today announced they’ve reached an agreement to part ways.

Under the terms of the deal, which are not being disclosed, Univision will become the sole owner of Fusion.

Effective immediately, Univision will take over ABC’s role in handling distribution and ad sales functions for Fusion’s multi-platform network, in addition to having editorial control.

The transition of ownership will happen once the transaction is completed.

Univision and ABC, which teamed up in 2012 to launch Fusion, released this joint statement:

“Our companies have gained valuable knowledge from each other over the past several years and we are proud of what we have built together in a short period of time. The mutual bonds created between our teams will remain.”

As part of the changes, Univision today announced it’s forming the Fusion Media Group (FMG), a “multi-platform destination for the new, rising American mainstream.”

FMG will include Univision’s interests in cable and digital properties Fusion, El Rey, The Root, The Onion, A.V. Club, Clickhole, Starwipe, Flama, Univision Digital, as well as Univision Music.

Isaac Lee will oversee FMG in his role as Chief News and Digital Officer.


In an email sent by Univision CEO Randy Falco to staff, “the creation of this new division underscores UCI’s commitment to digital innovation and will allow for increased collaborations across our owned media networks and digital brands.”

Last year, when Univision filed its IPO plans with the SEC, the company revealed Fusion lost $35 million in 2014.

Here’s Falco’s email:

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to inform you that Univision Communications Inc. (UCI) has reached an agreement with ABC to assume full ownership of FUSION and to announce that it will be forming the Fusion Media Group (FMG), a new division that will include UCI’s interest in FUSION and El Rey as well as The Root, The Onion, Flama, Univision Digital and Univision Music.

The Fusion Media Group will enable us to deliver a differentiated offering to the new rising American mainstream – Hispanics, African-Americans, and diverse millennials – across a range of digital and linear channels. The creation of this new division underscores UCI’s commitment to digital innovation and will allow for increased collaborations across our owned media networks and digital brands. Isaac Lee will oversee FMG in his role as Chief News and Digital Officer.

Under Isaac’s leadership, FUSION was launched as UCI’s first English-language effort and it has played an influential role in shaping our long-term growth strategy. After launching its cable network in October 2013, FUSION has grown with a broad multi-platform effort that now reaches approximately 27 million people a month across TV, online, social and OTT. Over the past several years FUSION’s award-winning team has delivered high-quality, compelling journalism that gives voice to the stories that matter to its diverse audience. Check out the video here and the info sheet here for more detailed information on FUSION. 

Bringing FUSION’s diverse newsroom fully into UCI’s portfolio of brands will enrich our growing multicultural efforts in the coming months. Effective immediately UCI will take over ABC’s role in handling distribution and ad sales functions for FUSION’s network, providing us with expanded opportunities to deliver rich experiences to our audiences as well as key brand partners.

Finally, I want to thank our colleagues at Disney/ABC who joined us as we pushed past our comfort zone to serve a broader audience, irrespective of language. Their team helped us launch FUSION’s cable network and grow its distribution to nearly 40 million households over the past two years. Our companies have learned a lot from each other throughout this process and we look forward to continued collaborations in the future.

We find ourselves at the center of a new America, and we are continuing to evolve as a company to meet and exceed the demands of the cross-cultural influencers that we serve. There is no one better to do this at scale and with passion, irreverence and authenticity than FMG because it is defining and leading the zeitgeist of American youth. I am confident these moves will further propel our mission and continued growth. A press release regarding these changes is attached for your reference.


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The View names Rosie Perez as co-host

Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez (Photo courtesy: Fanphobia)

After 17 years on the air, ABC has finally cast its first Latina to its talk ensemble “The View.” Actress Rosie Perez debuts as one of the new co-hosts in season 18 of the show, which starts Monday, September 15 at 11 am.

She joins another new hire – republican political analyst Nicholle Wallace, George W. Bush’s former communications chief. Both will team up with returning co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg on the one-hour daytime talk show.

In the past few years, ABC had invited a handful of Latina guest-hosts, mostly for a one-day visit, including Alicia Menéndez, Ana Belaval and Nely Galán.

Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, Rosie Perez’s career has ranged from actress, dancer, and choreographer to director and author.

She’s best known for her acting roles in “Do the Right Thing,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” and “Fearless” for which she received an Oscar nomination. She was a choreographer for multiple music videos for celebrities like Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown and LL Cool J, as well as for the Fly Girls for the TV comedy show “In Living Color,” where Jennifer Lopez was one of the dancers.

In February of this year, she published her autobiography “Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair).”

A known activist for Puerto Rican rights and the fight against AIDS, she is set to star in the Broadway play “Fish in the Dark” in March of 2015.

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Univision partners with ABC in the Bay Area

univision kgoKGO, the ABC O&O in San Francisco has struck a deal with Univision’s KDTV-14 to collaborate on stories of interest to their viewers.

Both stations are calling it a “strategic alliance” that will allow KGO and KDTV to share news content and also cross promote their newscasts.

The agreement is part of ongoing efforts between ABC and Univision to share news content. In December of last year, WUVP-TV Univision 65 and WPVI-TV 6 ABC in Philadelphia announced a similar partnership.

Disney-ABC and Univision are also partners in the cable joint venture Fusion, which launched in October of 2013.

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Perez leaves ABC News anchor job

Diana PerezDiana Perez has left her job as co-anchor of ABC’s overnight news program “World News Now” and “America This Morning” to spend time with her family. She gave birth to her second child earlier this year. Her last day was Friday, May 30.

Diana joined ABC News in April 2012 as a correspondent for NewsOne, ABC News’ affiliate news service. She was previously weekend evening anchor at CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston. Before that, she spent 3 years as a bureau reporter and fill-in anchorat WVIT, the NBC O&O in Connecticut.

Perez was the main bureau reporter and fill-in anchor at NBC Connecticut. She began her on-air career as a reporter and morning news anchor at News 12 The Bronx in New York City.

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Countdown to Fusion launch

ABC and Univision will simulcast portions of their morning shows to promote Fusion.

ABC and Univision will simulcast portions of their morning shows to promote Fusion.

Univision’s “Despierta América” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” “fuse” for a day to celebrate the launch of Fusion tonight at 6:57 pm, ET.

Karla Martínez and Raúl González of “Despierta América” will join the “GMA” team live in Times Square while ABC’s Lara Spencer and Sam Champion travel to Miami to be live from the “Despierta América” set.  The hosts of  Fusion’s “The Morning Show” – Pedro Andrade, Mariana Atencio, and Yannis Pappas – will participate in crossover event from the “Despierta América” set.

The ABC and Univision morning shows will simulcast portions of their broadcasts to both television networks. That’s the lead up to the debut of the new network, a joint venture between ABC and Univision.

Fusion-logo650The concept of Fusion has evolved since the joint venture was first announced as a “multiplatform news and information service for U.S. Hispanics” in May of 2012. Later billed as a “cable news and lifestyle network” targeting Hispanic millenials, now Fusion is describing itself as “a news, pop culture and satire TV and digital network” that  “will engage and champion a young, diverse, and inclusive America,” with no mention of “Hispanic millenials.”

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Menéndez guest co-hosts The View

Alicia_MenendezWe’re just one week away from the launch of Fusion network, and the promotional efforts have been ramped up between Univision and ABC.

As part of the joint venture’s cross-promotional opportunities, Fusion anchor Alicia Menéndez will be guest co-hosting “The View” tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 22.

A Harvard grad, Alicia is the daughter of Sen. Robert Menéndez, and has previously been a political commentator on cable news networks FOX, CNN, and MSNBC.

Despite the country’s growing Hispanic population, the ABC female talk show has failed to name a full-time Latina co-host. The show’s most recent vacancy (after Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s departure) was filled with Jenny McCarthy – a missed opportunity to give a much needed Latina voice to the show.

In July of this year, Nely Galán guest-hosted the show. In May, Pamela Silva Conde joined the female talk-show roundtable for a day.

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Mora gets show on Al Jazeera America

Antonio MoraEmmy Award-winning journalist and anchor Antonio Mora has joined Al Jazeera America as host of “Consider This,” a current affairs talk show. The program will air weeknights at 10 pm, starting August 20, when the network is scheduled to launch.  He’ll be moving to New York City, where his show will be based. He’ll be commuting to Miami on weekends, where his family will remain.

“I’m really excited,” Antonio tells me. “I was testing the waters to see what was out there.  There were a number of possibilities, but this became the best and most interesting of them all – an interview show on a national basis.”

Although his hiring was announced on Friday, Antonio officially started the new job on Monday, July 22 and has already begun show rehearsals.
“The intention of the format is to try to focus on one newsmaker and do a very long interview at the top of the show. Then there’ll be a panel where we’ll bring in  real Americans into the conversation, instead of using the regular pundits, to be part of the discussion of the issue of the day.  And it will have an active component, where we’ll include questions from viewers and get them into the show in real time.  We’re going to offer thoughtful discussion without being as hurried as most networks are.”

Antonio has been off the air since December of 2012, when he left WFOR, channel 4, the CBS O&O in Miami, where he had been an anchor for 4 years. He says he had been considering several options, including a local news anchor gig, but that the Al Jazeera America offer was the most appealing.

“I’ve been very impressed with how serious they are and how much they really want to do serious and in depth news rather than the most the salacious news of the day,” he says. “They’re now the biggest news network in the world. They’re going to have more bureaus in the U.S. than american networks, and internally, they don’t want to waste time airing the Jodi Arias trial. They want to do real news.  A lot of networks now cover trials and forget about what’s really happening in the rest of the world.”

Prior to his anchor job at CBS 4 in Miami, Antonio spent 6 years at WBBM in Chicago.  From 1994 to 2002, Antonio was a news anchor, senior correspondent and regular substitute host for “Good Morning America.”  He also anchored breaking news coverage for ABC News, served as a correspondent for “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” and was a regular substitute anchor for the weekend edition of “World News Tonight.”  He was the daily backup anchor for Peter Jennings in the weeks following the September 11 attacks.  He also reported for “Nightline” and “20/20.”

A Harvard Law grad, he began his TV career as a sports anchor and reporter for Univision 41, later joining Telemundo 47 in New York as an anchor and producer. Before launching his broadcast carreer, he was a corporate finance attorney.

Al Jazeera America has made several high-profile hires this past week.  ABC news vet Kate O’Brian was named President of the network on Monday. Marc Gatto, formerly of Discovery, Turner and CNN was named EVP for Broadcast Operations and Technology on Tuesday.  A day later, it was announced former CNN and CBS correspondent Joie Chen was tapped to host “America Tonight,” the channel’s daily prime time news and current affairs magazine program.

Earlier this month, Soledad O’Brien signed a deal with Al Jazeera America and in late June, Julio Varela joined Al Jazeera English as a Digital Producer for “The Stream,” which will air on Al Jazeera America after its launch.

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Galán to guest co-host on The View

Nely GalanMedia entrepreneur Nely Galán will be a guest co-host on “The View” tomorrow, July 11.  The former President of Entertainment for Telemundo and reality show producer is one of a handful of Latinas who have been invited as guest co-hosts throughout the years.

This past May, Univision anchor Pamela Silva joined the female talk-show roundtable.

Today, Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced she’s leaving “The View” to join Fox News Channel’s morning show “Fox & Friends.”

Since its launch in 1997, “The View” has failed to include a permanent Latina co-host, with the exception of a few guest-host spots.

When asked today if ABC will strengthen its recruiting efforts to have a steady Latina co-host on the show, publicity director Lauri Hogan replied in an email statement:

“Viewers will continue to see a variety of guest co-hosts/potential candidates, those of different gender, age, experience and background who are spontaneous, opinionated, entertaining and engaging.”

Since its launch in 1997, the show has had an Asian-American – Laura Ling –  and several African-American women co-hosts – Star Jones, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.

Hasselbeck’s departure is a perfect opportunity for ABC to fill that slot with a full-time Latina host.  It’s about time.


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Veronica Villafañe, Editor and Publisher

I'm an Emmy award-winning journalist, who's worked as an on-air reporter in Spanish and English-language television news. I've worked for Univision, Telemundo, CNN en Español and Los Angeles Fox and UPN stations before diving into a convergence model at the San Jose Mercury News. I was president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2004 to 2006, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in August of 2016. As an online news manager, I was West Coast Web Editor for impreMedia and Managing Editor of IntersectionsSouthLA.org. In addition to running Media Moves, which I founded in June of 2007, I'm a regular contributor to Forbes and also do freelance work as writer, reporter and producer.