EXCLUSIVE: Spanish language TV viewers will have an additional news option beginning September 26: NBCUniversal’s Telemundo Station Group says it will add a half-hour weekday newscast at 5 PM ET — expanding the early local news block to an hour and a half.

Telemundo’s 14 stations will add 30 employees to support the additional newscast. The outlets currently employ about 1,100 people.

The change replaces Telemundo’s court room show The Best of Caso Cerrado (it means “case closed”). And it isn’t specifically designed to take advantage of the flood of cash broadcasters expect to see from this year’s election campaigns. (Telemundo is promoting voter registration in concert with community groups.)

“We’ve been wanting to do this for some time,” station group President Manuel Martinez tells me. “Our viewers don’t have that many options.”

The additional half hour “won’t be as heavy” as the 6:00 newscast, he says. But it will still include breaking news, weather, consumer reports, as well as information about immigration matters and updates from Latin American countries.

This is the latest initiative in NBCU’s multi-year strategy to beef up Telemundo’s news. Stations face tough competition from Univision in the battle to serve the fast-growing Latino population.

It introduced its local newscast about two years ago along with a consumer investigative operation called Telemundo Responde (Telemundo Responds). That team has generated more than 1,800 stores and, the company says, recovered about $5 million for consumers.

In the meantime “our numbers grew, and we kept on growing,” Martinez says.

Telemundo has stations in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, San Francisco’s Area de la Bahía, San Antonio, Phoenix, Tucson, Texas’ Rio Grande City, Denver, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.

The company says that in the May sweeps its stations in Miami, Phoenix and Denver “outranked all local stations in their markets.”