There’s a lot happening at Univision which, among other things, filed paperwork last year for a potential IPO and reportedly is talking with partner Disney about changing the ownership structure of the Fusion joint venture that targets English language audiences.
But in a quarterly conference call with debt holders execs at the Spanish language media company mostly remained mum about the hot issues.
Univision disclosed the price tag for the stake in satirical site The Onion that it bought in January: It put up $27.1 million for a 40.5% interest. That gives Univision financial control, although it says the impact on its bottom line will be “immaterial.”
That purchase, plus the pick up in early 2015 of The Root — a news and opinion site about African American issues — “are complementary extensions to our existing digital assets and will help us expand our reach and achieve scale with multicultural millennial audiences,” CEO Randy Falco says.
Regarding Fusion, CFO Frank Lopez-Balboa says that “we’re growing that asset nicely.” He added that “we can’t say anything more about rumors you may read in the press” including the Wall Street Journal’s report in December that Disney wants out of the joint venture.
On another front, Falco says he’s “optimistic” that Univision will be able to negotiate new carriage terms with AT&T, which bought DirecTV last year. Although it “remains to be seen how people behave,” the telco “seems to be saying the right things.”
Univision says that it’s in a government-mandated “quiet period” limiting it’s ability to discuss its prospects for the FCC’s auction of broadcast airwave spectrum to wireless broadband providers. The agency will share the proceeds with local stations that agree to give up some of the spectrum they currently use for TV transmissions.
Although Univision is privately held, this morning it reported that it made an $8.8 million net profit in the last three months of last year, up from a $136.2 million loss in the period in 2014, on revenues of $735.9 million, up 1.1%. If you take out political ads — which helped in 2014 — and content licensing, revenues would have increased 3.6%.
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