MIAMI — On March 1, a full-power VHF station licensed to Key West, Fla., and serving the Miami-Fort Lauderdale DMA will officially embrace its fourth Spanish-language television network since Dec. 28, 2012.
Burbank, Calif.-based LBI Media, owned by Liberman Broadcasting, hopes there will be no further changes at this station—especially because it just purchased it.
With two weeks ago to the station’s relaunch, LBI has hired a Hispanic media veteran to serve as its GM in South Florida.
Taking the role at WGEN-8 is Nick Valls.
He’ll oversee sales and operations for the soon-to-be Estrella TV affiliate, which will significantly boost its presence in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale DMA by gaining a station with distribution on Comcast, Altice USA’s Atlantic Broadband, AT&T U-Verse and DirectTV and on DISH Network. Estrella TV programming currently airs in the market via low-power WVFW-LD 34; it previously enjoyed carriage on Sunbeam Television’s WSVN-7.2 DT subchannel, with coverage across all MVPDs and DBS providers.
Valls’ first order of business is to recruit and build a Miami-based team for WGEN-8. This includes oversight of the addition of two local newscasts; it was not known if the station’s current newscast presenters and reporters will continue under LBI ownership.
Valls is perhaps best known for his 18 years at Univision Communications, where his roles included stints as SVP/Partnership Marketing Group, and as SVP/Network Sales.
Valls’ most recent role indirectly involves WGEN-8: He was SVP/Ad Sales on the network level for the now-defunct MundoMax, born out of the ashes of 21st Century Fox’s MundoFox. WGEN was the Miami affiliate for both networks.
Before joining MundoMax, he served as EVP/Ad Sales and Marketing for WAPA América and Cine Latino owner Hemisphere Media Group.
“As we move forward with increasing our presence in the Miami area, we are pleased to have Nick join our team and spearhead the launch of our broadcast operations in one of the top Hispanic markets in the U.S.,” said LBI Media CEO Lenard Liberman. “His experience and knowledge of the Miami television business will greatly enhance Estrella TV’s expansion in this vibrant and critical market.”
In an asset purchase agreement that is expected to be filed with the FCC on Jan. 8, LBI Media agreed to purchase WGEN-8 from Mapale Group, a U.S. subsidiary to Colombian multi-sector investment company Valórem S.A., for approximately $11 million cash. Greg Guy of Patrick Communications served as the broker in this transaction.
The sale price of WGEN-8 reflects a steep dip in the facility’s value since Mapale acquired the station. In December 2005, Mapale acquired WGEN-8 from Sonia Broadcasting Co. for $36 million.
Among Estrella TV’s signature programs are Noches con Platanito, which non-Latinos may mistakenly believe is a Hispanic version of “Krusty The Clown” from FOX’s long-running animated program The Simpsons. Rather, it is a variety show reminiscent of those found on English-language TV in the U.S. through the late 1960s. Other programming includes the competition show Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento.
With the WGEN acquisition, LBI Media will have a full local sales staff in the Miami market, as well as facilities in the Doral, Fla. area to handle local production for clients. On a national spot level, LBI Media’s in-house rep firm, helmed by industry veteran Jason Hall, will represent WGEN.