ABC News and Univision to Launch 24-Hour News Channel

By Chris Ariens 

ABC News and Univision are moving forward with plans to launch an on-air and online newschannel aimed at the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic population. The 24-hour, English-language network will be based at Univision headquarters in Miami with plans to launch online this summer and on air early next year.

“Univision has a deep and important relationship with the U.S. Hispanic audience,” says ABC News president Ben Sherwood in a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser. “By sharing our resources, we will inform, entertain and empower the enormously influential Hispanic American community and many others interested in our programming.”

Sherwood says the venture “is subject to the completion of definitive agreements.” This includes getting the big cable systems, including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Charter to carry the network.

Sherwood, along with Cesar Conde, president of Univision and Isaac Lee the president of Univision News, will hold a town hall with staffers at 12:30pmET to answer any questions.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report talks of a partnership in February.

Former NBC COO Randy Falco is now CEO of Univision Communications. Under his watch, the company has launched three cable channels, Univision Deportes, Univision tlNovelas and Univision Noticias.

Falco was president of NBC Broadcasting when the network launched MSNBC in 1996. Falco was also instrumental in NBC’s acquisition of Univision competitor Telemundo in 2002.

ABC’s owner, Disney, operates three of the top 10 cable networks: Disney Channel, ESPN and ABC Family. ABC News announced plans for a 24-hour newschannel in 1996, but abandoned the idea in May of that year after NBC/Microsoft and News Corp. ramped up plans for MSNBC and Fox News Channel. In 1982, ABC and Westinghouse partnered for the Satellite News Channel. That venture lasted 16 months, failing after not getting significant cable carriage.

Sherwood’s note after the jump…

This morning we’re announcing a far-reaching joint venture that will propel ABC News into the future of news and information. Like our alliance with Yahoo!, this new enterprise represents an important leap forward for our division.

We’re joining forces with Univision, the powerful #1 player in Hispanic media, to launch a 24/7 news, information and lifestyle network primarily in English that will serve the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the country: U.S. Hispanics.

At 50 million strong and projected to grow to almost one-third of the U.S. population by 2050, Hispanics play a vital role in American business, government, media, music, film, science, medicine and so many other fields. Together, U.S. Hispanics make up one of the largest economies in the world, at $1 trillion dollars and growing, and are a coveted audience for newsmakers and advertisers. They want news and information in Spanish and in English – as our friends at Univision like to say, they love fútbol and football. But until now there’s never been a network in English aimed at them with culturally relevant news, information, lifestyle, entertainment, health, wellness and other programming.

Founded in 1962, Univision has a deep and important relationship with the U.S. Hispanic audience. By sharing our resources, we will inform, entertain and empower the enormously influential Hispanic American community and many others interested in our programming.

Our new outlet will be uniquely positioned to tackle the fast-changing media landscape by delivering original content on-air, online and everywhere people consume media. Putting digital first, ABC News and Univision will launch the venture online this summer. We expect that our new television channel will be operating by the first half of 2013.

This new partnership delivers on our 2012 priorities — increasing our reach, developing new growth businesses, creating new content, excelling in political coverage and strengthening our digital presence. It will provide even greater exposure for the talented journalists of ABC News to tell the great stories of our time. And it will allow us to deepen our conversation with the Hispanic community across all of our platforms.

The joint venture is subject to the completion of definitive agreements.