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Univision Buys Stake in Satire Site The Onion

There’s nothing funny about it: Spanish-language media titan Univision Communications has purchased a minority stake in Onion Inc., the backer of the popular satire and humor site The Onion, part of an effort by the company to court younger consumers.

The move follows Univision’s purchase of The Root, a website aimed at African-American consumers, from Graham Holdings last year and its launch with ABC News of the cable network Fusion, which aims for younger viewers and extends into digital media, in 2013.

“Comedy is playing an expanding role in our culture as a vehicle for audiences to explore, debate, and understand the important ideas of our time,” said Isaac Lee, chief news and digital officer of Univision and chief executive of Fusion. “It has also proven to be an incredibly engaging format for millennial audiences, and is expected to play a key part in the 2016 presidential election process via our robust content offerings in Spanish and English.”

The purchase was reported previously by NPR, which suggested Univision’s stake comprised about 40% of the company. A Univision spokeswoman declined to comment on specific details of the transaction.

The purchase follows reports that Walt Disney’ s ABC is ready to cut its involvement in Fusion, which has had trouble gaining traction in a competitive media landscape, even though the company has made several notable hires of journalists for its digital extensions. An investment in The Onion might help Univision gain access to more web traffic and alliances that would promote its other digital outlets.

The Onion got its start as a satirical newspaper, and its articles often get viral pass-along. In some cases, news outlets have unwittingly picked up its stories as if they were real. The company operates The Onion as well as A.V. Club, a showcase for commentary on popular culture and entertainment; ClickHole, a site that boasts “clickable” content offerings; StarWipe, a celebrity-gossip endeavor; and Onion Studios, a unit that produces video content.

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