Telemundo: ¿Quien Es el Jefe?
The ideal Spanish-speaking exec is proving elusive for NBCU's Lauren Zalaznick.
America's two big Spanish-language broadcasters started looking for new leaders around the same time this year. But while Univision named Randy Falco president and CEO in June, Telemundo -- part of Comcast's NBCUniversal -- continues to pursue a president. Part of the reason is that Telemundo is seeking a Latino, Spanish-speaking leader, while Univision picked a non-Latino. Lauren Zalaznick, NBCUniversal's chairman of entertainment & digital networks and integrated media, also wants someone with international expertise who is willing to locate to the company's Florida base. The stakes are high: Telemundo -- which just delivered its strongest quarter ever, averaging 1.4 million viewers in primetime -- has been cited by Comcast as a key growth opportunity as Spanish-speaking U.S. residents ballooned to 50 million in the 2010 Census. The hit telenovela La Reina del Sur has generated the highest ratings in the network's 19-year history, with May's season finale drawing more than 4 million viewers and dominating its time slot in the 18-to-49 demographic. Zalaznick admits the search has been tough but plans to place someone by the fourth quarter. "Finding heads for major network companies is hard," says Bill Simon of executive search firm Korn/Ferry, which has not been involved in the Univision or Telemundo hunts. "It is made more difficult by the fact that direct competitors were looking at the same time."
THREE CANDIDATES: Zalaznick hopes to find a Telemundo head by the fourth quarter. Is it someone from this trio?
Telemundo's COO is not only one of the few high-ranking Latina executives in network TV, she's also a media veteran. But her bosses seem to like the former publisher of People en Espanol in her current role.
In 2009, the 18-year Willliam Morris veteran launched Fluent Media Group, which manages, creates and distributes intellectual properties. He developed ABC's Ugly Betty, based on a telenovela.
The former president and COO of Univision Communications retired in 2009 after nearly 20 years at the company, but his brother Michael has a key job at Telemundo as executive vp multimedia development and distribution.