FCC OKs Univision Deal
March 27, 2007 at 12:53 PM (PT)
The FCC has approved the deal that takes UNIVISION COMMUNICATIONS private. The company recently entered a $24 million consent decree with the company to resolve pending license renewal applications being challenged on the basis of children's educational TV violations. The agreement, settling allegations that the company labeled adult-oriented telenovelas as children's programming, includes a detailed plan to comply with the Children's Television Act.
Chairman KEVIN MARTIN said, "The contribution is significant and appropriate. It reflects the seriousness with which the Commission takes its public interest obligations. These requirements are not optional, and we expect broadcasters to comply with them. With these commitments by UNIVISION, I believe this transaction is in the public interest."
Given how little the FCC demands of its licensees these days when it comes to serving the public interest, those who fail to meet even our minimal standards deserve to be severely rebuked.
Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS, while concurring, called UNIVISION's original position on the programming dispute "wholly indefensible" and added, "Given how little the FCC demands of its licensees these days when it comes to serving the public interest, those who fail to meet even our minimal standards deserve to be severely rebuked. Indeed, I hope that the FCC and watchdog groups will continue their work together to examine which programs other licensees claim as 'core' children’s programming.
"We need to take every step within our power to make sure that America’s children and their parents actually receive the type of quality programming that they are guaranteed by the Children’s Television Act. And of course, as I often point out, we wouldn’t have to resort to fines or investigations at all if broadcasters were engaging in the self-regulation that is their solemn responsibility as trustees of the public airwaves."
COPPS also raised concern that the "assumption of massive amounts of debt" might affect the company's "stewardship of the airwaves" and questioned whether shifting from public to private ownership might "affect the Commission’s ability to determine which entities have practical control over licensees’ editorial decisions and financial strategy." He called for a Commission level report on that issue in the coming months.
Commissioner JONATHAN ADELSTEIN, also concurring, added, "That this alleged violation occurred weekly over a two-year period on 24 stations across this country is indicative of the Commission’s own failure to actively enforce broadcasters' public interest and children programming obligations. While I believe that this multi-million-dollar contribution and UNIVISION's designation of a corporate compliance officer and creation of an advisory committee are steps in the right direction, the Commission must continue vigorous enforcement to ensure that broadcasters comply with federal law."