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MundoFox Future in Question as RCN Takes Control of Spanish-Language Network

BOGOTA — A top executive at Colombia’s RCN vowed to keep the U.S. Spanish-language network MundoFox intact as the company assumes control of the channel that had been a joint venture of RCN and Fox.

Julian Giraldo, exec VP of international channels at RCN, said there will be no major changes and that the company’s faith in MundoFox president Ibra Morales is steadfast. RCN and Fox had conflicting priorities for Spanish-language media, which led to the end of the joint venture, Giraldo said.

“Fox wanted to focus on its own cable channels while we wanted to continue in the open (broadcast) network television sector,” said Giraldo.

Hernan Lopez, president of Fox International Channels, who spearheaded the MundoFox launch, emphasized that Fox is committed to reaching U.S. Latinos with its Spanish-language cablers Fox Deportes, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life. MundoFox will be in good hands with RCN, he added.

“They have a great leader in Morales, and they are well placed to realize all of the potential of the network,” Lopez said.

MundoFox launched in the August 2012 as part of Fox and RCN’s lofty bid to tap the lucrative Spanish-language television market, dominated by Univision and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo for decades. No decision has been made yet about changing its name. Giraldo is based in Washington, D.C.

Some observers in Colombia say they wouldn’t be surprised if MundoFox eventually shuttered. Rival Caracol TV used to run a station in Miami, GenTV, but leased it to CNN as it grew less economically viable.

Fox committed significant resources to MundoFox with original scripted and unscripted series, including an adaptation of “The X Factor,” news programming and dubbed episodes of Fox and FX series including “American Dad” and “The Bridge.” RCN contributed telenovelas and other funding.

The hope was that advertising dollars would flow in from marketers eager to target the Spanish-speaking segment of the nation’s fast-growing Hispanic population. But visibility for MundoFox in key markets was a challenge from the start, as its affiliates were mostly small indie outlets that didn’t bring much audience to the table. The network has a very low profile in the nation’s No. 1 market, New York City, which makes advertising a tougher sell.

MundoFox has no doubt been a drain on Fox and RCN’s coffers. Using Dec 2014 rates, Caracol saw 2014 net profits rise 70.3% to $33.3 million while RCN posted a 47.7 % dip to $6.56 m.

RCN is said to have laid off some personnel in Colombia.

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