Azteca America Inc., which hopes to become the country’s third Spanish-language television network, has received Federal Communications Commission approval to construct a full-power Los Angeles station.
The approval brings the number of stations Azteca America owns or is in the final stages of acquiring to 12, said Chairman and Chief Executive Harry Pappas. Pappas also owns half a dozen stations in smaller markets that could eventually be converted to Azteca stations.
The construction of KIDN-TV Channel 54 is a key step in what will be an intensely challenging undertaking. Los Angeles-based Azteca America was formed as a joint venture between Mexico’s second-largest network, Television Azteca, and privately held Pappas Telecasting Inc. of Visalia, Calif.
The venture will create competition for Los Angeles-based Univision Communications Inc., whose network has long dominated the market here, as well as for distant-second Telemundo, based in Miami. Yet Azteca faces hurdles. It must still acquire stations in key markets, including Chicago and New York. An announced acquisition of a New York station fell through last month.
Univision this month announced its acquisition of USA Networks Inc.'s broadcast group for $1.1 billion. That deal for 13 full-power stations and a minority interest in four more gives the leading network second stations in a number of growing Latino markets. It also takes one of the few remaining station groups off the market, making Azteca’s acquisition job all the tougher.