Univision Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The leading Spanish-language media company in the United States, Univision operates radio and television stations and cable networks and has recorded music and Internet divisions. Its services provide broad-based programming content that competes effectively with English-language media, providing important sources of information and entertainment for Hispanic Americans and Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Univision began in 1962 as the Spanish International NetworkSpanish International Network (SIN) through the facilities of flagship station KWEX-TV, San Antonio, Texas. During that same year, KMEX-TV in Los AngelesLos Angeles;Spanish-language media[Spanish language media], went on the air, followed by other SIN-owned and operated stations to form the first foreign-language broadcast television network in the United States.UnivisionTelevision;UnivisionUnivisionTelevision;Univision[cat]MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS;Univision[cat]JOURNALISM;Univision[cat]COMMUNICATIONS;Univision[cat]BUSINESS;Univision

As SIN was partly foreign owned, the Federal Communications CommissionFederal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered its sale in 1986. Hallmark Cards bought the network, changed its name to Univision, and developed programming to attract a broader national audience, while still addressing Hispanic viewers. In 1992, Hallmark sold Univision to an American-Venezuelan-Mexican consortium. In 2006, the network again went on sale. The private equity investors Broadcast Media Partners, Incorporated, purchased it the following year. Since then, Univision Communications, Inc., has been headquartered in New York City, and its primary television production center has been located in Miami, Florida;Spanish-language media[Spanish language media]Miami, Florida.

Following the example of other national networks that owned multiple services, Univision launched and acquired media properties providing new markets, the first of which was America’s first Spanish-language cable service, GalavisionGalavision Network, with was launched in 1979. The World Wide Web;Spanish-language media[Spanish language media]Univision Online division was launched in 2000, creating Univision.com., which would become the most frequently accessed Spanish-language site on the World Wide Web. In 2008, the division was renamed Univision Interactive Media, which added Univision Movil to deliver mobile interactive content.

In 2002, Univision acquired USA Broadcasting, along with its thirteen broadcast television stations, to form a second Spanish-language television service called TeleFuturaTeleFutura Network that reached more than 85 percent of all U.S. Hispanic households. In 2003, Univision acquired Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation and established Radio;Spanish-language[Spanish language]Univision Radio, the largest Spanish-language radio group in America, with more than seventy radio stations that reached about 75 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population, as well as Puerto Rico.

By the early twenty-first century, Univision Network was maintaining an audience-share advantage over its main competitor, TelemundoTelemundo, largely through imported programming produced in Mexico by TelevisaTelevisa, the world’s largest producer of Spanish-language television shows. Televisa’s long-term arrangement to supply programs to Univision has served as an important cultural link between Mexican immigrantsMexican immigrants;and television[television] in the United States and their homeland. Central American immigrants are also familiar with Televisa programs broadcast on Univision. Access to familiar television programming has helped Latin American immigrants adjust to life in the United States.

As a multimedia conglomerate reaching millions of people, Univision has also helped to promote voter education and raise awareness of immigration issues. Together with other Spanish-language media, Univision has played an activist role by mobilizing Hispanics to social action. In 1994, California;Proposition 187[a]Proposition 187;opposition towhen California’s Proposition 187 went on the ballot to limit government benefits for undocumented immigrants, Univision contributed $100,000 to oppose the measure. In 2006, a group of activists enlisted Univision and other Hispanic broadcasters to help mobilize more than 500,000 people in a peaceful national protest against proposed federal immigration policy reforms.

In 2008, Univision received a prestigious Peabody Award for its Ya Es Hora (it’s time) public service campaign, an effort to inform, educate and motivate Hispanic participation in citizenship and political matters. The campaign included public service announcements that encouraged eligible permanent legal residents to apply for U.S. citizenship and supported get-out-the-vote efforts.UnivisionTelevision;Univision

Further Reading
  • Cambridge, Vibert C. Immigration, Diversity, and Broadcasting in the United States, 1990-2001. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005.
  • Nuñez, Luis V., ed. Spanish Language Media After the Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting. New York: Novinka Books, 2006.
  • Rodriguez, America. Making Latino News. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1999.
  • Rodriguez, Clara. Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.

Latin American immigrants

Mexican immigrants

Spanish-language press


Television and radio

Categories: History