Uva to take over Univision

Former Turner exec is new CEO

Univision Communications on Tuesday tapped one-time Turner Broadcasting executive Joe Uva to be the Spanish-language broadcaster's new CEO once it is taken private in a pending sale to an investment group.

The appointment comes days after the Los Angeles-based company agreed to a $24 million fine for violating children's programming regs to secure the FCC's anticipated approval of the sale (HR 2/26). The deal is set to close in March.

Uva, who after Turner joined the OMD media agency in 2002, succeeds lead shareholder Jerrold Perenchio as CEO and will be based in New York, effective April 1. A spokeswoman declined comment on whether Univision's corporate headquarters will be relocated.

The group of investment firms buying Univision for $12.3 billion -- Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group -- issued a statement touting Uva as a leader who can put Univision on a growth track.

"Joe has a proven track record of achievement in a broad range of advertising-focused media businesses based on his effective strategy development, team building, sales skills, creative execution and new business expansion," said the investors, who are acquiring Univision under the name Broadcasting Media Partners.

As CEO of OMD, Uva is credited with structuring "the industry's first billion-dollar cross-media buying contract." His previous 17-year tenure at Turner included several years as sales and marketing president at TBS, TNT, Turner Sports, Cartoon Network, WTBS-TV and network Web sites.

"This is a company with tremendous strength that has fabulous growth opportunities," Uva said of Univision. "Its relationships with its consumers are unparalleled in the media industry."

Univision's FCC fine stems from a challenge to its sale filed by the United Church of Christ, which charged Univision Network with violating the 1990 Children's Television Act by claiming that the telenovela "Friends to the Rescue" was educational children's programming. Under the act, broadcasters must air at least three hours of such programming weekly.

The network agreed to the fine by entering into a consent decree that paves way for Univision to complete its private-equity sale. A majority of the five-member FCC still formally must vote to approve the sale, but commission chairman Kevin Martin has said he now can support the deal.

News of Uva's appointment circulated after the close of trading. Univision shares closed down 6 cents on the day at $35.90.