Spanish Language Media After the Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting Merger: Brief Overview
CRS Report for Congress
Spanish Language Media After the
Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting Merger:
Charles B. Goldfarb
Specialist in Industrial Organization and Telecommunication
Research, Science, and Industry Division
U.S. broadcast policy, as mandated by Congress, is premised on the broad public
policy objectives of competition, localism, and diversity of voices. Two identical bills
(H.R. 3027 and S. 1563) would prohibit the FCC from approving any assignment or
transfer of a broadcast television or radio license used to serve a language minority
without a hearing regarding the effects on competition and diversity in the programming
and distribution markets for the specific minority language at issue. The Federal
Communications Commission (“FCC”) has approved the merger of Univision
Communications, Inc., the dominant Spanish language media company in the U.S., and
Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, the largest Spanish language radio operator in the
U.S. The new entity has upwards of 80% of the audience and 70% of the advertising
revenue of Spanish language media in the U.S. The 31.6 million U.S. Hispanic
population is not linguistically homogeneous; 6.8 million speak English only, but 7.4
million speak English “not at all” or “not well.” Most bilingual Hispanic adults
primarily watch news programming in Spanish. This report is a condensed version of
RL32116, which provides detailed tables of demographic, viewing, and market
information for the Spanish speaking population as well as detailed analysis of public
U.S. broadcast policy, as mandated by Congress and implemented by the Federal
Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) through its media ownership
rules, is premised on the broad public policy objectives of competition, localism, and
diversity of voices. The ownership restrictions in the FCC rules vary by market size,
based on the total number of broadcast stations in a geographic market. (See CRS Report
RL31925, FCC Media Ownership Rules: Issues for Congress.) In applying these rules,
there has been debate about whether the relevant “diversity market” for reviewing mergers
of Spanish language broadcast properties should include all outlets or only Spanish
language outlets. Two identical bills (H.R. 3027 and S. 1563) would prohibit the FCC
from approving any assignment or transfer of a broadcast television or radio license used
to serve a language minority without a hearing regarding the effects on competition and
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
diversity in the programming and distribution markets for the specific minority language
at issue, and also would require the FCC to report to Congress regarding the ownership
and control of broadcast stations used to serve language minorities.
On September 8, 2003, the FCC approved in a 3-2 vote the merger of Univision
Communications, Inc., the dominant Spanish language media company in the U.S. (which
owns the leading Spanish language broadcast television network, cable television
network, television station group, music recording and publishing company, and Internet
site) and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (“HBC”), the largest Spanish language radio
operator in the U.S.1 Business Week has estimated that the combined Univision-HBC will
reach more than 80% of Hispanic viewers and listeners and receive about 70% of
Hispanic media’s advertising revenues.2 In reaching its decision, the Commission applied
its media ownership rules, taking into account the total number of broadcast stations in
each geographic market. Based on that calculation, it required Univision to divest one
television station in Houston and one in Albuquerque.3 The Commission explicitly
rejected the argument that there is something unique about the needs of the Spanish
language population in the U.S. or about the financing, production, or distribution of
Spanish language programming for U.S. households, that requires a distinction to be made
between Spanish language media outlets and other media outlets.
There were 38.8 million people in the United States in July 2002 who identified as
Hispanic or Latino4 — 13% of the total population — making the Hispanic community
1 In the Matter of Shareholders of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (Transferor) and
Univision Communications, Inc. (Transferee) For Transfer of Control of Hispanic Broadcasting
Corporation, and Certain Subsidiaries, Licensees of KGBT (AM), Harlingen, TX et al., File Nos.
BTC, BTCH, BTCFTB-20020723ABL-ADS, and BTCH-20021125ABD-ABH, MB Docket No.
2 Catherine Yang, “A Test for Big Media: Bueno o Malo?,” Business Week, May 12, 2003, at p.
receives 35% of Spanish language broadcast network revenues, the Business Week estimate may
be too high.
3 As part of the Department of Justice Final Judgment in the Univision-HBC merger (United
States of America v. Univision Communications Inc. and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation,
Civil Action No. 1:03CV00758, Final Judgment, filed 3/26/03, at pp. 4-5), Univision is required
to exchange all of its voting equity interest in Entravision Communications Corp. to nonvoting
equity interest immediately and to reduce its ownership interest in Entravision from 31% to 15%
within three years and to 10% within six years. Entravision owns and/or operates 58 radio
stations in the top 50 Hispanic markets and with its network affiliates has coverage of 56% of the
U.S. Hispanic population. Entravision also owns 41 television stations that have affiliate
contracts with either the Univision television network or the TeleFutura television network, both
of which are owned by Univision, running through 2021. (See Entravision Communications
Corporation Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 2/14/03, at pp.
4 In this report “Hispanic,” “Latino,” and “Hispanic-American” are used interchangeably. The
various sources cited in the report use one or more of these to connote the same population.
the largest minority community in the country according to the Census Bureau.5 The
Hispanic population in the United States has doubled since 1980; Hispanics accounted
for half the country’s population growth in the two years after the 2000 Census was
taken.6 The Hispanic population also is experiencing the fastest growth rate in spending
power of all ethnic and racial groups in the U.S.7 Hispanic consumers in the U.S. will
control about $653 billion in spending power in 2003.8 Over the eighteen-year period,
1990-2008, the nation’s Hispanic buying power is projected to grow at a compound rate
of 8.8%, from $222 billion in 1990 to $1,104.2 billion in 2008; the comparable growth
rate for non-Hispanics is 4.9%.9 However, the 2000 Census found that in 1999 Hispanic
households had a median income of $33,676, or 80% of the overall U.S. median
household income of $41,994.10
The Hispanic community is not linguistically homogeneous. Of the 31.6 million
people 5 years or older who identified as Hispanic or Latino in the 2000 Census,11 6.8
million speak English only, while 24.6 million speak Spanish and also English at varying
levels of proficiency. Of the latter, 7.4 million, or almost one-fourth of the Hispanic
population, speak English “not at all” or “not well.” Almost half (47%) of adult
Hispanics are “Spanish dominant.”12 The remaining adult Hispanics split between those
who are English dominant (25%) and those who are bilingual (28%).13 Spanish dominant
5 See D’Vera Cohn, “Hispanics Are Nation’s Largest Minority,” The Washington Post, June 18,
6 Id. at p. A1.
7 Jeffrey M. Humphreys, “The multicultural economy 2003: America’s minority buying power,”
Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, The University of Georgia,
Georgia Business and Economic Conditions, Volume 63, Number 2, Second Quarter 2003 (“Selig
8 Id. at p. 6.
9 Id. at p. 6.
10 Table DP-3, Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics: 2000, Income in 1999, Data set:
Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data and Table P152H, Median Household Income
in 1999 (Dollars)(Hispanic or Latino Householder) - Universe, Households with a householder
who is Hispanic or Latino, Data Set: Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data.
Viewed on 10/10/03 at [http://www.census.gov] by selecting “American Factfinder,” then under
“Data Sets” selecting “2000 Summary File 3,” then selecting “Quick Tables,” then selecting and
adding “Nation” from the drop-down menu for geographic type, then selecting and adding Table
“DP-3,” then selecting “Show Result,” and then by selecting “American Factfinder,” then under
“Data Sets” selecting “2000 Summary File 3,” then selecting “Detailed Tables,” then selecting
and adding “Nation” from the drop-down menu for geographic type, then selecting and adding
Table “P152H,” then selecting “Show Result.”
11 Table PCT11, Data set: Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data. Viewed on
selecting “2000 Summary File 3,” then selecting “Detailed Tables,” then selecting and adding
“Nation” from the drop-down menu for geographic type, then selecting and adding Table
“PCT11,” then selecting “Show Result.”
12 Pew Hispanic Center and Kaiser Family Foundation, 2002 National Survey of Latinos,
December 2002, at p. 16.
13 Id. at p. 16.
Latinos reported having lower incomes than those who are bilingual or those who are
English dominant. 65% of Spanish dominant Latinos reported earning less than $30,000
a year while those who are bilingual or English dominant were more likely to earn over
$30,000 a year, and particularly more likely to earn annual incomes of $50,000 or more
Survey data indicate that Latino households tend to watch television as a family,
rather than as individuals;15 when family members have varying levels of English
proficiency, the family is likely to watch Spanish language programming — particularly
for news — to accommodate those with limited understanding of English. As a result,
57% of all bilingual (Spanish-English) Latino adults prefer to watch primarily Spanish
language news programming on television.16
The growth in Hispanic buying power and its favorable demographics of young,
urban adults has attracted advertisers and investors. From 1992 to 2002, the number of
broadcast radio stations with primarily Spanish language programming formats grew
91%, from 360 to 687;17 during the same period, the total number of radio stations in the
U.S. increased by only 19%, from 11,117 to 13,193.
Today there are approximately 135 full power and low power broadcast television
stations in the U.S. offering primarily Spanish language programming.18 In addition,
most Hispanic households have access to a large number of Spanish language networks
over cable or satellite. Some of these networks are available as part of enhanced basic
service packages, some are available as part of premium packages at additional charges,
and some are available on a pay per view basis. Both Echostar and DirectTV offer
14 Id. at p. 17.
15 Louis DeSipio, “Latino Viewing Choices: Bilingual Television Viewers and the Language
Choices They Make,” The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, Claremont, CA, May 2003, at p. 6.
16 Id. at pp. 14-15.
17 M Street Radio Directory, Eleventh Edition, 2002-2003, “Format Statistics: Primary Format,”
at p. 18. Various industry sources provide different figures. According to the summary sheet
provided in Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook, 2002-2003 (at p. D-662), there were 580 Spanish
language formatted radio stations in the U.S. in 2002, 543 commercial and 39 non-commercial;
587 stations are listed in its detailed station listings (at pp. D-693 - D-694). According to TIYM
Publishing Company’s Anuario Hispano or Hispanic Yearbook (at
[http://www.hispanicyearbook.com], viewed on 10/10/03 by using “Search the DATABASE” to
get a drop-down menu, then selecting “List of Hispanic Radio Stations” and “Search”), there
were 630 Spanish language radio stations in 2002.
18 According to Kagan World Media, The Television Station Deals and Finance Databook 2002,
April 2002 (at p. 45, U.S. TV Station Summary), there were 134 Spanish language stations in
2001, 123 in 2000, and 125 in 1999. According to Media Market Resources, First quarter 2003
TV Datatrak (at pp. 135 ff, Commercial Format Requirements), which identifies each television
station that accepts commercial advertising, there were 122 stations with Spanish language
programming. TIYM Publishing Company Inc.’s Hispanic Directory for 2002 lists 157 Spanish
language television stations (at [http://www.hispanicyearbook.com], viewed on 10/10/03 by using
“Search the DATABASE” to get a drop-down menu, then selecting “List of Hispanic TV
Stations” and “Search”), but this list includes what appears to be multiple listings for broadcasts
originating at a single location and several cable television channels.
Spanish language packages with about 20 channels of video programming and 8 or more
digital audio channels.19
Univision president Ray Rodriguez is reported to assert that although Spanish
language television now attracts 5% of the total U.S. television audience, it captures only
2% of television advertising revenues.20 There is evidence, however, that the market is
responding to demographic changes and rapidly reducing the gap between the audience
share and the advertising share of Spanish language programming. While advertising
revenues for all media grew by only 2.2% in 2002, they grew by 25.5% for the two major
Spanish language companies, Univision and Telemundo.21 According to Advertising
Age22 and Broadcasting & Cable,23 most of the growth in the Hispanic market is fueled
by new “mainstream” advertisers, such as Absolut, Fruit of the Loom, Best Buy, Staples,
Energizer, and Target, entering the market. The majority of advertising targeting the
Hispanic market is in Spanish.
At the same time, there are strong market forces propelling consolidation in the U.S.
media sector (see CRS Report RL32026, Market Dynamics and Public Policy Issues in
the Video Programming Industry, and CRS Report RL32027, Market Structure of the
Video Programming Industry and Emerging Public Policy Issues). These forces exist for
Spanish language media outlets as well as English language outlets. Univision has
asserted that its merger with HBC is in the public interest because it gives it the size and
scope needed to compete with English language media giants for national advertising
dollars. Opponents of the merger argued that the merger of two dominant Spanish
language media companies reduced the number of independent Spanish language voices
available to Spanish speaking viewers and listeners and potentially raises barriers to
competitive entry by other companies offering Spanish language programming.
The high horizontal and vertical concentration in the Spanish language media
industry creates several potential threats to the Congressional goals of competition,
localism, and diversity of voices. Just as is the case for English language cable
channels,24 successful launch of a new cable network depends on that network being
carried by major multi-system cable operators (“MSOs”) and/or satellite systems. These
media giants typically will be negotiating from a position of strength unless the program
19 [http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/see/ParaTodosChannels.jsp], viewed 8/27/2003 and
[http://www.dishnetwork.com/ cont ent/progr ammi ng/packa ge s / d i s h _ l a tino/index.asp?viewby=
20 Frank Ahrens and Krissah Williams, “Spanish-Language Media Expand: Broadcasters,
Newspapers Pursue Fast-Growing Market,” Washington Post, August 11, 2003, at pp. A1 and
A10, citing Univision president Ray Rodriguez.
21 Data from New York-based advertising tracker CMR, presented in Steve McClellan, “Arriba,
Arriba, Arriba,” Broadcasting & Cable, November 25, 2002, at p. 20.
22 Laurel Wentz, “Cultural Cross Over: A growing number of savvy marketers reach out in
English as well as Spanish,” Advertising Age, July 7, 2003, at pp. S-1 and S-2.
23 Allison Romano, “Finally, Some New Advertisers,” Broadcasting & Cable, September 8, 2003,
at p. 36.
24 See CRS Report RL32026, Market Dynamics and Public Policy Issues in the Video
Programming Industry, July 28, 2003, at pp. 11-12.
producer has a unique offering that creates countervailing leverage. For example, the
popularity of the Univision broadcast network can be used by Univision to help obtain
cable and satellite carriage of TeleFutura and other Univision channels as well — a
market advantage that independent Spanish language programmers lack. The need for
such leverage has created market incentives for all producers — whether of English
language programming or of Spanish language programming — to consolidate. But it
also means that it is much more likely that Univision will be able to launch new Spanish
language cable networks than will independent program producers unless those program
producers give the MSO or satellite systems a substantial equity interest.25
For effective competition to Univision to develop, competitors will have to increase
their relatively small audience shares. Telemundo, which owns the second largest
Spanish language television network and a major Spanish language television station
group but nonetheless is a distant second to Univision, asserts that the most effective way
to reach potential viewers to inform them of its new programs is by advertising on other
Spanish language outlets, especially radio outlets, that have large audiences. That claim
appears to be supported by Telemundo spending 74% of its 2002 advertising budget on
radio.26 Most of the major Spanish language television and radio stations in the largest
Hispanic markets are owned by Univision or Entravision (which is 30% owned by
Univision). Telemundo has alleged that Entravision stations have refused to accept
advertising from Telemundo to promote its programming, thus depriving it of access to
the most efficient means to inform viewers of its programming.27
As explained in CRS Report RL32026,28 one of the market dynamics driving
consolidation is the efficiency gains from being able to market programs across multiple
media outlets. Firms have integrated to improve the coordination of these program
marketing efforts. If some competitors are denied access entirely or in part to the
dominant media outlets, which may have upwards of 80% of the audience share, then they
will only have access to inferior marketing outlets. When a company is trying to reach
and inform the Spanish speaking community in the U.S. about its product — even a media
product — if it is denied access to dominant media outlets it may be placed at a
significant competitive disadvantage. While Univision, for example, has no obligation
to allow its competitors to piggyback off the popularity of its programming, given its
market dominance refusing to accept advertising may have anticompetitive consequences.
Entravision’s refusal to air Telemundo advertisements, if practiced by all Univision-
related media outlets, could result in the dominant television/radio combination denying
its television competitors access to a majority of Spanish speaking radio listeners and
television viewers. Absent rules that prohibit such conduct, consolidation that extends
a dominant firm’s reach potentially denies key access to competitors.
25 Id. at pp. 11-12.
26 August 21, 2003 Telemundo Ex Parte to the FCC, at p. 4.
27 Id. at p. 4.
28 CRS Report RL32026, Market Dynamics and Public Policy Issues in the Video Programming