"Activists are poised to ask a federal appeals court to overturn a Federal Communications Commission order allowing Univision Communications Inc. to buy Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. Though the National Hispanic Policy Institute has yet to make a final decision about whether to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to intervene, Arthur Belendiuk, a lawyer who represents the New York advocacy group, said Tuesday, Sept. 23, he fully expects to force the FCC to defend its order. "This is not the last you have heard of this case," said Belendiuk, a partner in Washington law firm Smithwick & Belendiuk. "There are serious legal flaws in the FCC decision."
"The merger with Hispanic Broadcasting and creation of Univision Radio opens important new avenues of growth for Univision," Univision chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio said in a statement. "Univision's entry into the $20 billion radio industry presents tremendous opportunities for our employees, advertisers and shareholders. Approximately 60% of all national advertisers do not yet advertise in Spanish."
Consumer activists and Univision competitors such as Spanish Broadcasting Corp. have lobbied against the deal for more than a year. They contend it would create a media goliath that would dominate the Spanish-language market.
The FCC approved the merger in a 3-2 vote, the majority declaring that the enlarged Univision would compete better for advertising against English-language media companies.
The deal has become a political hot potato in recent months, especially once the FCC adopted rules easing restrictions on many media mergers. Hispanic groups and lawmakers have lined up on both sides of the deal, some arguing that Univision would monopolize Spanish-language broadcasting and others contending the deal would allow the company to expand Spanish-language programming options.
This debate continued in the statements the commissioners issued when the FCC released the order clearing the merger. "This merger has meaningful public benefits," wrote FCC Chairman Michael Powell and his two fellow Republicans on the panel. "It will give Hispanic media a better opportunity to compete against big media companies."
The two Democrats on the commission predicted disastrous results from the merger. "By allowing this transaction to go forward with no protections for consumers, the FCC denies Spanish speakers their right to receive a diversity of perspectives over the nation's airwaves," FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote."