Telemundo wants L.A. ban on TV Azteca


WASHINGTON -- In the battle for network supremacy among the Latin audience, NBC-Telemundo took the unusual step Thursday of asking the FCC to deny a license to its chief rival to run KAZA-TV in Los Angeles.

In a petition filed at the commission, NBC-Telemundo charged that Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca fails the FCC's "character" test and that it hid its ownership of the Spanish-language station behind a series of sham transactions in order to win the license. Under U.S. law, foreign ownership of broadcast outlets is limited to 25%.

NBC is attempting to get the FCC to deny renewing the station's license -- usually a routine process. In its papers, NBC claims that a joint venture between Pappas Broadcasting and TV Azteca hides the real ownership of the station.

In addition, NBC accused TV Azteca executives of using a series of "strong-arm" tactics, including authorizing an "armed raid" on a Telemundo production crew in Mexico and securities fraud in the U.S. and Mexico.

"TV Azteca's principles have enriched themselves through massive securities fraud at the expense of their U.S. shareholders and for years have deprived those shareholders of any opportunity for legal redress by deliberately evading service of process, delisting TV Azteca stock from trading in the U.S. and literally hiding out in Mexico," NBC wrote. "And TV Azteca and its principles have engaged in physical harassment and intimidation to achieve the desired result of excluding a legitimate competitor in the television business in Mexico."