Univision’s New Commander: A Former Media General?


MIAMI — From the westernmost reaches of the sprawling city of Doral to the high-rises of Aventura, there’s lots of chatter this morning about the future of Univision Communications. A new CEO has reportedly been selected by the Hispanic media company, cementing the retirement of current chief executive Randy Falco at the end of 2018.

As first reported Tuesday evening by Bloomberg, Vince Sadusky will soon be given the official nod as Univision’s new leader.

Sadusky is well-known in the television industry for his roles both in Hispanic media and in the total market — namely as the CEO of Media General that successfully completed its merger with Nexstar Media Group.

Sadusky entered the Media General fold after serving as CEO of LIN Media, which merged with Media General in the final weeks of 2014. Sadusky spent a decade as LIN Media’s leader, joining the company in 2005.

From 1994-2004, he held the CFO role at Univision’s biggest rival — Telemundo.

Asked for comment, a Univision spokesperson told RBR+TVBR, “We are declining comment. Should that change today or later we will be in touch with you.”

This suggests that an announcement is imminent.

Further, The Wall Street Journal reports that Sadusky could step in and succeed Falco “at the troubled Spanish-language broadcaster” as soon as June 1.

Sadusky is presently a member of the Board of Directors at Hemisphere Media Group, owner of WAPA-4 in San Juan, Puerto Rico and cable-distributed channels including Cinelatino, WAPA América and Television Dominicana. He’s been on the Hemisphere board since January 2013.

It’s been a tumultuous five months for Univision, which remains the overall Spanish-language TV ratings leader but has seen its fortunes greatly diminished by a highly evolving Hispanic market that has less overall desire for traditional fare supplied by Univision’s programming partner, Mexico-based Televisa. At the same time, NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo has made considerable gains and presently dominates the 10pm weeknight spot with its “Super Series.”

The troubles in Doral first gained the industry’s attention on March 6, when Univision gave up on its Initial Public Offering after a series of delays. Univision explained that “due to prevailing market conditions,” it requested the withdrawal of its Form S-1 on file with the SEC for a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock.

The announcement came concurrent to the naming of Peter H. Lori as Univision’s CFO, rising from the role of EVP/Finance, Chief Accounting Officer and Deputy CFO for the company. Lori succeeds Frank J. López-Balboa, who officially has decided to depart Univision to pursue opportunities.

Given the timing of the aborted IPO, it is believed that López-Balboa was asked to tender his resignation.

Two days later, Hispanic media was less-than-stunned to learn of Falco’s retirement plans. Many in the Hispanic marketing and media world had privately discussed his exit for months and were more surprised by his November 2017 signing of a two-year contract with Univision that would have kept him in place until January 2020.

Falco’s pending departure follows a similar move from former President of Advertising Sales & Marketing Keith Turner. Turner retired at the end of 2017, concluding four decades in the media industry. He had been with UCI since 2012.

In April, the news from South Florida took a further negative turn, as the second, and deeper, round of job cuts at the Hispanic and millennial-focused company in eight weeks transpired. Some 150 jobs were eliminated as part of its “multi-year transformation initiative,” and also involved its English-language properties Fusion Media Group and Gizmodo Media Group. That week, Gizmodo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Raju Narisetti resigned.

According to a March 16 report in The Wall Street Journal, the job cuts were recommended by Boston Consulting Group as part of a review the company’s business. A preliminary recommendation saw BCG suggesting that Fusion cut its budget by up to a third, “people familiar with the matter” told the newspaper.

Asked for comment, a Univision spokesperson told RBR+TVBR, ““We are focused on challenging ourselves to pursue strategies that strengthen our competitive edge and best position us for the future. As part of this process, we have made the difficult decision to eliminate some positions across various UCI business units. We are taking steps necessary for our business to continue to thrive, but we will never compromise our duty and purpose to inform, entertain and empower our community, which is more important today than ever before.”

Further job losses of upward of 300 individuals are expected once the CEO transition is made.