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Telemundo revamps

Network, holding company to combine

MIAMI — U.S. Spanish-lingo net Telemundo Network and affiliated station group Telemundo Holdings are merging their interests in an ownership and operational restructuring.

Subject to Federal Communications Commission approvals, the merged companies will form Telemundo Communications Group, which will then appoint James McNamara, now prexy-CEO of the network, to its top post.

Move will more effectively align the operations of affiliate and owned and operated affiliate stations with that of the network, Telemundo said in a statement.

Telemundo Network is equally owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media, which led the consortium that acquired the No. 2 U.S. Spanish-lingo net in 1998 for roughly $539 million.

Station holding pattern

Those two partners also own about 49% in Telemundo Holdings. The rest is held by Station Partners, an investment partnership formed by Bastion Capital and the Apollo Investment Fund.

Apollo is divesting its interest in Station. Its stake will be purchased by Longmont, Colo.-based Council Tree Communications. Council Tree separately will contribute its Telemundo affil KMAS, which serves Denver and outlying Colorado cities Colorado Springs and Pueblo, to the new Telemundo company.

Once that sale and the merger are completed, Telemundo Communications’ equity will be divided among Sony, with 17.4%; Liberty, 43.5%; Station Partners, 32.9%; and BB Capital, a subsid of Bastion, with 6.2%, a spokesman told Daily Variety.

Voting rights, the details of which were not provided, are consistent with those under the two-company structure, according to McNamara.

Gaining ground

Under his leadership, the Telemundo Network has seen its ratings recover steadily, and its share of the ad pie is improving. It recorded an 86% increase in upfront ad sales to $175 million for the 2000-01 season, up from just $94 million a year ago.

Rival net Univision Communications, which reaches a larger percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population, announced upfront sales of $501 million, up 18% from a year ago.

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