Univision taps Randy Falco as CEO

Former AOL topper promoted at cabler

Univision stayed inhouse in settling on its new prexy-CEO. Randy Falco, a former top NBC exec and former CEO of AOL, has been handed the reins, six months after he joined the Spanish-lingo media giant as exec veep and chief operating officer.

Univision, owned by an investor group headed by Haim Saban, conducted a search for a CEO during the past few months, though Falco was considered the prime candidate to succeed Joe Uva, who departed in April after four years in the post.

Falco will also join Univision’s board of directors.

His appointment comes as Univision is poised for an expansion push with the launch of a cable channel dedicated to telenovelas, news and sports during the next 18 months (Daily Variety, April 13).

Falco has experience with Hispanic media — Univision rival Telemundo was part of his jurisdiction during his time at NBC. Company’s multiplatform push, too, is within his range of experience: between the Peacock and Univision, Falco headed AOL from 2006-09.

“Randy has over 30 years of relevant industry experience and has demonstrated his highly skilled leadership and strategic vision at Univision over the past six months,” said Univision chairman Saban. “We are confident in Randy’s ability to deliver on Univision’s goals and accelerate our growth.”

Since being sold for $13 billion by a consortium of investors led by billionaire Saban in 2007, Univision has been on a steady upswing. The company settled a long-running legal fight with its key programming supplier, Grupo Televisa, last year, ensuring Univision access to Televisa’s popular novelas. The network has delivered all-time high primetime ratings this year with a string of telenovela hits. It has also locked up key sports rights deals including World Cup soccer matches.

Ever since the Hispanic population growth statistics in the latest U.S. Census report heightened interest in Spanish-lingo media, it’s been rumored that Saban and his investors plan to take Univision public again. Indeed, the company produces a quarterly earnings report even though it isn’t publicly traded. The last of those reports was strong: Uva reported revenues up 12% in the fourth quarter of 2010 to $577 million, with revenues for the year up 14% ($2.2 billion).

“Univision has been at the forefront of innovation and has grown its competitive position while continuing to serve and advocate for the important U.S. Hispanic community,” Falco said.