Local TV

Telemundo Maps Out Local Strategy

Group president Abud addresses unique needs of Spanish-language viewers 8/13/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

At a Glance: Telemundo Station Group

Top Execs:

Emilio Romano, president, Telemundo; Jacqueline Hernández, COO, Telemundo; Manuel Abud, president, Telemundo Station Group; Enrique Perez, senior VP sales and marketing, Telemundo Station Group

Public or Private:

Public

U.S. coverage:

30% of U.S. homes

Number of stations:

14

Locations:

Based in Miami; stations include KVEA Los Angeles, WNJU New York and WSCV Miami

Website:

Telemundo.com

Manuel
Abud took over as Telemundo Station Group president last Jan. 1. Formerly the
general manager at KXTX Dallas, Abud now oversees the 14 owned Telemundo
stations. He spent the first half of the year traveling the country, visiting
each station and helping the management refine Telemundo's local presence.

Abud, who recently relocated to Miami, spoke with B&C deputy editor
Michael Malone about what he is doing for Telemundo's owned stations and
affiliates.

How were all those visits?
It's been a great six months. And I can tell you, 100,000 American airlines
miles later, that it is very, very exciting to have visited every single
station and every single general manager. I had the advantage of being at the
station group over 10 years, running stations myself, so I had a very good
sense of what I would be finding. It's been a great, intense six months.

Telemundo
committed last year to adding 1,000 hours of local news and public affairs programming.
How is that coming?
We've
exceeded that. We launched weekend news in New York and Dallas, evening news in
Puerto Rico and Houston. We've expanded some newscasts; in Puerto Rico, we
added an hour a day. We will launch a 6 a.m. news in New York in the fourth
quarter. We are committed to local news, regardless of the FCC pledge.

What
words describe a Telemundo-owned station?
A very close
connection with the community. We establish a different relationship with our
audience than the general market stations, because the needs in the community are
so vast that they see us as the lifeline, not only the provider of news. It's a
responsibility we take very seriously; all my general managers are fully
committed to their communities. It's not only the right thing to do, but it's
good business sense.

Might Telemundo buy or sell
stations?
Improving and expanding our distribution are high priorities,
not necessarily buying stations. Enhancing our relationship with our current
affiliates is my priority. Emilio [Romano, president of Telemundo Media] has
charged me with making sure our affiliates are fully supported regardless of
who owns the station-we treat them the same way whether they're owned by us or
owned by someone else. I'll also be channeling some resources and attention to
our affiliates to provide better support to their local news and their
community engagement.

Do
all the owned stations have local news?
Yes. It's
part of the multimillion-dollar investment we're doing over the next five
years, to make sure everyone has what we call the full offering: Two evening
newscasts, the morning newscast and weekend newscasts. We have a full road map
for the next five years to put all the stations on that level.

Any
surprises during your tour of the stations?
Not really. We have a great team and it's very refreshing to see
the team so engaged and so excited.

Where are you
based?
Miami-I'm
actually just making the move. Being in Miami is also part of the strategy to make
sure the stations and the network are working together.

What has Comcast's
ownership meant for the group?
Comcast
has been a terrific partner for us. They're very committed and supportive of
NBCUniversal in general and Telemundo in particular. I think it's been a great
experience so far. They have made clear through their investments that they are
fully committed to us.

Telemundo has new
competition from MundoFox. What do you make of Fox's new Spanish-language network?
What do they
say about imitation being the best form of flattery? I always respect new ideas
being put on the table. I think they prove we are doing something right and they
validate our formula. We've been developing our relationship with our audience
on the local level for so many years; it's not a plan that's easily stolen. I feel
very comfortable that we have such a relationship with our audience on the
local level that we'll be OK.

Will competing
against MundoFox make the Telemundo stations work harder to produce news, sell
better, etc.?
It's hard to
tell what is going to be their local strategy-there's no visibility of that. I
happen to know their flagship very well, KWHY Los Angeles-I used to run that
station. I know its strengths and weaknesses, I know very well that it is positioned
to be as strong, if not stronger, than it has been in the past.

What's your biggest
concern out of Washington?
We have a
lot of things on our plate [in terms of looking] at ways to better connect with
the audience. I'm familiar with the issues in Washington; I'm a former member
of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, and my concern is no different than any
other--broadcast spectrum and the usual issues. But right now I'm focused internally
on our company and serving our clients.

What are the
Telemundo stations doing for the election season?
One of our
initiatives is Vota Por Tu Futuro, Vote for Your Future. We promote
participation in voting and voter registration among our communities. We always
provide news in an unbiased, journalistically sound way to inform and empower
people.

Will the group
offer mobile DTV in the near term?
Yes. We look
at any possible new platform of distribution, but my first priority is to
strengthen the content. It doesn't matter how many platforms you have if you don't
have the right content.

How does the
political spend at the Spanish-language stations compare to the general market
stations?
Unfortunately
we still have work ahead of us in terms of getting to the level of spending
that the general market has seen. That's why our competitors and us work very hard
together in terms of making the political campaigns aware of the importance of [the
Hispanic vote]. We've seen some progress. We have work ahead of us, but we see
improvement over previous campaigns.

How do you make the
case that they should spend more on Spanish-language stations?
The
demographics of the census-the hard numbers speak for themselves. It's really a
matter of reading the numbers and showing them the composition of the market.

Do you miss working
at just one station?
No, I'm
loving it. I really love my job and it is a great time to be here. We have the
full commitment of our owners and my bosses have been extremely supportive in
investing in the stations.

We've
made great inroads in terms of fully deploying our HD signals across the stations.
We did a great deal with DirecTV to have 22 stations on their HD platform. At
the local level, we are fully energized with our new leadership and are making
a lot of investments and working together with NBC and the leadership at their
station group. We are very closely partnered with [NBC Owned Stations President]
Valari Staab and take some best practices from them when applicable. I really
think that broadcast and the local stations are in a good place right now.

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

At a Glance: Telemundo Station Group

Top Execs:

Emilio Romano, president, Telemundo; Jacqueline Hernández, COO, Telemundo; Manuel Abud, president, Telemundo Station Group; Enrique Perez, senior VP sales and marketing, Telemundo Station Group

Public or Private:

Public

U.S. coverage:

30% of U.S. homes

Number of stations:

14

Locations:

Based in Miami; stations include KVEA Los Angeles, WNJU New York and WSCV Miami

Website:

Telemundo.com

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