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FocusOn Television

By HMW Staff

Azteca America, debuts “Knockout Azteca”, a reality show that brings together international boxing legends to train nine boxers in the hope of turning one of them into a contender for the World Boxing Association (WBA). The reality show premieres this Friday, March 24 at 10 pm/ 9 C.

“Knockout” follows boxers as they endure rigorous training regimens and prepare to go head-to-head in the ring. One by one, fighters will be eliminated, until a winner emerges in each of the three respective weight classes: Featherweight, Lightweight and Cruiserweight.  Viewers will get an all-access look at not only the trainers, but also the fighters and what inspires them to compete.

The best trainers in the world will be in charge of training the nine contestants for the battles they will face both on and off the ring, among these is Mayweather Sr., who boxed during the 1970s and ‘80s and inspired fear in his opponents because of his strong defensive abilities as well as his knowledge of boxing strategy.  He later began training his son, Floyd Mayweather Jr., guiding him to world championships in five divisions.

Among the fighters that will fight the battles on the ring are Hector Camacho Jr., Ron Johnson, Rosalinda Rodriguez-Velez, and Chasity Martin.

“Knockout Azteca” is divided into three different weight classes: Featherweight (126 pounds), Lightweight (135 pounds) and super Cruiserweight (200 pounds).  The winner in each division will fight against a Top 20 contender in the WBA.

The reality show airs Fridays at 10 pm / 9 C with seven original episodes and at least one fight, one recap episode, and a boxing match to air live.

Your Editor Adds: Azteca piles on Deportes

By Georg Szalai

The company, led by CEO Randy Falco, expects $376 million in FCC spectrum auction proceeds.
Univision Communications on Thursday reported higher fourth-quarter earnings and said that it anticipates receiving approximately $376 million in proceeds from the FCC spectrum auction this year.

It said it would use the proceeds to pay down debt.

On the Spanish-language media giant’s earnings call, CEO Randy Falco discussed the company’s changes to its programming strategy after some ratings disappointments last year. He said a January announcement that Isaac Lee will oversee content development across Univision and programming partner and Mexican TV giant Televisa “demonstrates the strength of our relationship with Televisa.” And he emphasized: “The United States now will become a primary place for distribution of content, not a secondary” place.

Falco also told analysts that “we have seen some good results from recent programming changes.” For example, in the fourth quarter, Univision saw ratings improvements in the 9 p.m. time slot, he said. And in the current first quarter, it is up almost 10 percent in primetime helped by new family-friendly live programming in the 8 p.m. hour, Falco added.

Univision is also continuing to invest in non-Televisa content, such as a previously announced upcoming El Chapo miniseries with Netflix, he said.

Univision operates such assets as broadcast networks Univision Network and UniMas, formerly Telefutura, as well as cable channel Galavision and sports network Univision Deportes.

NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo last year reached some landmark victories to beat Univision in the demographic of 18-49 year olds. But Univision said Thursday that it finished the 2015/2016 broadcast season as the most-watched Spanish language network overall for the 24th consecutive year and also leads the overall audience season-to-date.

The Spanish-language media giant, which has been planning an IPO, posted a fourth-quarter profit of $108.0 million, compared with a year-ago profit of $8.6 million.

Fourth-quarter adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA), another profitability metric, rose 16.4 percent to $390.1 million, driven by a 16 percent gain in the company’s media networks unit and a 15.4 percent increase in its radio division.

Quarterly revenue rose 15 percent to $846.5 million, or 8.5 percent when excluding for better comparability the political/advocacy advertising and content licensing revenue in both periods. Advertising revenue increased 7.8 percent to more than $541 million. Non-advertising revenue, including carriage fees and content licensing, rose 30.6 percent to $305 million.

Said Falco: “Our fourth quarter marked a strong finish to a very positive year for Univision where we achieved the highest revenue and adjusted OIBDA in the history of our company.” He added: “Our investments to strengthen and diversify our content and portfolio of assets have helped us to build upon our position as the No. 1 network for U.S. Hispanics and significantly grow our reach.”

Falco also said: “As we look ahead, we are optimistic that our increasingly diverse portfolio of leading media assets will position us to perform well in a rapidly changing media landscape.”

On the call, Falco said he expects “a strong upfront” advertising sales season in May, with management emphasizing its team will highlight recent ratings improvements in upfront talks.

Your Editor Asks: Will Univision return to its Spanish-language base?

Temporary restraining order expires on Feb. 9

By Jon Lafayette

A New York State judge granted Charter Communications a temporary restraining order that restores Univision’s programming to Charter cable subscribers. Univision pulled its programming when its contract with Charter expired on Jan. 31, leaving 2.5 million Hispanic viewers blacked out.

In a statement, Univision said that “a judge who was temporarily assigned to our case today said that she planned to issue an order that Univision’s networks and stations had to be restored on Charter Spectrum for 7 days.  This order only lasts until February 9, when the judge permanently assigned to the litigation is back in court.  For the 7 day period that it is receiving Univision’s services, Charter Spectrum will be required to post a bond covering the actual market value of Univision’s programming, rather than the inadequate rates that Charter Spectrum has been paying.”

Related: Computer Companies Side With Univision in Charter Carriage Fight

Univision said it “remains ready and willing to meet at any time with Charter Spectrum to engage in comprehensive, good-faith negotiations for the long term carriage of our stations and networks. To date, Charter Spectrum has steadfastly refused to engage in such negotiations.”

Your Editor Marvels: Univision is knocking them down. The obstacles, I mean

By Jon Healey, Los Angeles Tmes

The Spanish-language television network Univision is back on cable TV in Los Angeles after a two-day blackout, thanks to a temporary restraining order issued by a judge in New York.

Some consumer advocates argued that the blackout — caused by a contract dispute between Univision and cable TV operator Charter Communications — denied Latinos a news source they depended on to keep track of the developments in Washington that were dramatically affecting their communities. They wanted government to intervene because of, well, Trump.

There’s certainly a whiff of Trump conspiracy theories in the air. Witness this comment by 92-year-old Cypress Park resident Lorenza Muniz after she discovered Univision’s local channel, KMEX, had been blacked out on her Charter Spectrum cable service: “Is this Trump?” The Times quoted her saying to her son. “Is he doing this so Mexicanos don’t get any information?”

The ability to tune in TV signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow.

Local TV stations have long occupied a special place in American society. Their role as a conduit of information was seen as so important, they were granted the exclusive use of extremely valuable airwaves for free. But the ability to tune in those signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow. Television broadcasts are a product, competing with other products and trying to extract the best price from their customers.

There was a time when there were relatively few TV signals available — three major broadcast networks and a handful of local UHF stations — and a limited number of other news sources. (As a writer for a newspaper that went bankrupt not too long ago, I view those days as the Golden Age, and if making America great again meant restoring my industry to its pre-Internet dominance, I would have been all for it.) This is decidedly not that time.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone “depends” or “relies” on Charter’s Univision feed for news. There is one other major Spanish-language network — Telemundo, owned by Comcast‘s NBC Universal subsidiary — and at least four independent local Spanish language broadcasters in Southern California. There are plenty of Spanish-language radio stations, two daily Spanish-language newspapers and an assortment of Spanish-language weeklies.

Add to that countless Internet feeds, including Univision’s $6-a-month Univision NOW, as well as at least two satellite-TV alternatives to Charter (AT&T’s DirecTV and Dish), and you’ve got an extremely healthy market for news and information.

It’s not in Univision’s interest to publicize this fact. The more it’s seen as vital or even irreplaceable, the more pressure there will be on Charter to pay higher fees to carry Univision’s stable of TV channels.

That, after all, is the real subject of this dispute, which began when Charter bought Time Warner Cable. Charter and TWC had different contracts with Univision — TWC, which had more customers, had negotiated lower fees. Univision insisted that the merged company negotiate a new deal, but Charter decided simply to pay the fees called for in TWC’s contract. Univision sued and set a Jan. 31 deadline; when the deadline passed without a deal, the network demanded that Charter stop retransmitting the two over-the-air and three cable channels it controls.

They play hardball in the TV business. That’s why blackouts happen across the country every few months; it’s why most Angelenos still can’t watch Dodger games on TV. This case is a little different because it boils down to how existing contracts should be interpreted, which is the kind of thing courts are often asked to resolve. But the core issue, as with every battle between pay-TV operators and networks, is how much the channel’s content is worth.

That’s something the market — that is, TV viewers — should decide, not the government. And if companies like Univision win every one of these disputes, cable bills will just keep going up and up and up. Which is not to say that Univision is wrong in this particular battle; that depends on whether Charter isn’t paying the price it agreed to pay.

The two sides have about a week to work out a deal before the restraining order lifts and the blackout resumes. Consumers shouldn’t stand idly by in the meantime. They can make their feelings known about Univision’s value by calling Charter and threatening to cancel their subscriptions unless it retains Univision — or tuning en masse to other channels.

Your Editor Comments: No confundan la magnesia con la gimnasia