The accelerated retirement plan comes during a 24-hour period when the company ditched its long-planned IPO stratregy and replaced its CFO.
Univision provided a statement to Deadline after a flurry of reports described friction between Falco and the company’s board. “There are multiple rumors out there and on behalf of the Univision Board I would like to set the record straight about our CEO Randy Falco,” said the statement from Haim Saban, Chairman of the Board Directors for Univision Communications Inc. and the Board of Directors of UCI. “Recently Randy came to us and told us that he would like to retire at the end of 2018 when he will turn 65 years old and end an outstanding 8 year tenure as the CEO of Univision. Let me be clear we at the Board of Univision have reluctantly agreed to Randy’s wishes out of respect and the high regard we have for him as a partner. During his time as CEO he has modernized the Univision organization, grown earnings and reduced debt at record levels and we could not be more pleased with his performance. We have asked Randy to work with us over the next year in restructuring the company and consult with the board on a transition to new leadership.”
Tension has been on the rise at Univision, the privately owned Hispanic media company, which has lately faced heightened competition from revitalized rival Telemundo and also the macro pressures faced by traditional TV entities.
Late Tuesday, the company announced it had replaced its CFO, with Peter Lori getting the post as Frank Lopez-Balboa exits. It also said it was ditching plans for an initial public offering, which the privately held company had contemplated since 2015. The move raises significant questions about the exit strategy of the private equity firms that control UCI.
Falco, 64, spent three decades at NBC before arriving in 2011 at Univision, whose portfolio includes 17 broadcast, cable and digital networks and 120 local television and radio stations.
The traditional programming business of Univision’s flagship broadcast network has come under assault by NBCUniversal’s Telemundo, whose shows have lately aimed for higher production values, longer running times and less reliance on the legacy telenovela approach. Telemundo even managed the once-unthinkable feat of beating Univision in the live/same day ratings on certain nights, though February sweeps turned out differently. At the same time, one notable move engineered by Falco was the acquisition of several high-profile digital brands, including The Onion and the Gizmodo Media sites (a group once led by Gawker). The company also backed the Fusion cable network, which initially was a joint venture with ABC. It launched in 2013, the exact moment when the traditional cable bundle was being re-examined by customers and the industry alike.