FCC allows Televisa to up Univision stake

Mexican broadcasting giant Televisa is set to significantly up its stake in Hispanic US network Univision after America’s media regulator okayed the plan.

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday greenlit a joint petition from Televisa and Univision to allow the former to increase its 14% voting interest and 10% equity stake.

This means New York-listed Televisa is clear to bypass foreign ownership rules and pursue a 49% voting interest and 40% equity stake in the Delaware-based Univision, which operates a broadcast network and various cable channels in the US.

Televisa also wants the FCC to allow company CEO and chairman and major shareholder Emilio Fernando Azcarraga Jean to take a personal stake of more than 5% in Univision. Azcarraga Jean’s grandfather, Emilio Azcarraga Vidaurreta, co-founded Univision (then Spanish International Network) in 1962.

Univision’s current owners include Madison Dearborn Partners (which has the largest voting interest), Providence Equity Partners, Saban Capital Group and TPG Global. Televisa took an equity stake in 2010.

US media ownership rules state foreign companies can only hold 25% stakes in US-based firms. The Univision ruling comes soon after FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced his resignation ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency, which begins on January 20.

Televisa already supplies around 35% of Univision’s Spanish-language progrmming.

Univision last year acquired the assets of Gawker Media for US$135 million.