Latino Broadcasting Merger Gets Green Light

WASHINGTON, D.C. Federal regulators on Monday approved the merger of the leading Hispanic TV power, Univision Communications, with the top Spanish-language radio company, Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.

The action, on a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, creates a media powerhouse that backers say will be able to compete for advertising with bigger, traditional English-language networks. The approval joins 68 radio stations owned or controlled by HBC with 32 TV stations owned or controlled by Univision, the FCC said.

Both of the FCC’s Democrats dissented, saying in a statement that the approval allows Univision “to assume something close to monopoly power in the fast-growing Spanish-language media.”

The Republican majority, led by FCC Chairman Michael Powell, said the merged firm will own 51 of 222 Spanish-language television stations and 67 of the nation’s 706 Spanish-language radio stations. “These are not the numbers of dominance,” the three Republican commissioners said in a statement accompanying the merger approval. The merger had awaited regulatory approval for more than a year.