For the past several months, a number of prominent former NBCUniversal executives have quietly taken the reins of many major jobs at Spanish-language media outlet Univision Communications, all the while running ads showing how Univision often tops the NBC broadcast network in the ratings. Now, NBCU is trying to reverse the flow, snatching a current senior Univision veteran, Cesar Conde, and giving him a senior role.
Conde has been president at Univision since 2003, assuming the role of president in 2009. At NBCU, he will serve as an executive vice president, reporting directly to NBCU topper Steve Burke. Conde will work on what NBCU described as “business development, strategic priorities and special business projects” across the company’s properties. He is also slated to oversee NBCU’s international operations, which earlier this week was placed under the aegis of Kevin MacLellan.
HIs departure robs Univision of the exec who helped orchestrate many Univision coups: an increase in the number of broadcast and cable networks to 14 from 3; the launch of the company’s first English-language network, the Fusion joint-venture with Walt Disney’s ABC News; and, perhaps most important, boosting the performance of Univision’s flagship network so that it began to beat some of the English-language broadcast outlets in the important 18-to-49 demographic.
Another former Univision exec is also working at NBCU: Joe Uva, a veteran media-buying executive, who served as CEO of Univision Communications from 2007 to 2011. Uva now oversees NBCU’s Spanish-language operations, including Telemundo.
At Univision, content chiefs Alberto Ciurana (programming & content), Isaac Lee (news) and Juan Carlos Rodriguez (sports), all of whom reported to Conde, will now report directly to Univision Communications prexy and CEO Randy Falco, a former NBC exec. There are no plans to replace Conde. “We are appreciative of Cesar’s contributions to Univision over the last decade,” Falco said in a statement.
Prior to working at Univision, Conde served as the White House Fellow for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from 2002 to 2003. Prior to that, he worked at StarMedia Network, the first Internet company focused on Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking audiences globally and also in mergers & acquisitions for Salomon Smith Barney.
The shakeup comes just a week after an interesting incident among Univision’s senior ranks: Ciurana nearly quit his year-old job one morning. He was said to have been frustrated by the decision-making process in the programming department, where he clashed with old-guard Univision execs. He was persuaded to return, within hours, but not before he posted the following remarks on Twitter: “A very good experience, I’m going” and, “Thank you for everything @Univision.” Those posts have since been deleted.
Conde’s departure has nothing to do with the internal dispute, according to people familiar with the situation. Univision spokespersons were unavailable for comment.