Azteca (TV network)
|Type||Spanish language broadcast television network|
Más cerca de ti|
(Closer to You)
(also distributed in northern Mexico)
|Owner||Azteca International Corporation|
Luis J. Echarte|
(CEO, Azteca International Corporation)
|Azteca América (2001–2014)|
480i (SDTV; formatted to downconverted widescreen in many markets)
Azteca is a Spanish language American broadcast television network that is owned by the Azteca International Corporation subsidiary of Azteca S.A. de C.V. Headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California, the network's programming is aimed at Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States and relies primarily on access to programming from TV Azteca's three national networks in Mexico, including a library with over 200,000 hours of original programming and news content from local bureaus in 32 Mexican states.
Azteca is available on cable and satellite television throughout most of the country (primarily carried on dedicated Spanish language programming tiers, except in some markets with an over-the-air affiliate), with local stations in over 60 markets with large Hispanic and Latino populations (reaching 89% of the Hispanic population in the U.S.; approximately 43,396,000 people, or 38% of the country's total population). A national feed is distributed on cable and satellite in many markets without either the availability or the demand for a locally based station. The network's flagship station KAZA-TV in Los Angeles is the highest-rated station in Azteca's portfolio.
The network, originally named Azteca América, was formed through an alliance between Mexico-based broadcaster TV Azteca and Visalia, California-based television station owner Pappas Telecasting Companies announced on September 8, 2000 to launch a new Spanish language broadcast network during the second quarter of 2001 as a competitor to established networks Univision and Telemundo. TV Azteca, which planned to own 20% of the network, contributed an exclusive programming agreement in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, while Pappas, which owned a majority 80% interest, planned to have stations in ten markets – three already owned by the network, and seven that Pappas was in the process of acquiring in Nevada, Arizona and Texas (most of which were low-power stations) – serve as Azteca América's charter stations. Pappas and Azteca invested close to $500 million to start up the network, with an additional $450 million allocated for station acquisitions and $129 million loan by TV Azteca to Pappas. The network hoped to reach 65% to 70% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. by 2002.
TV Azteca, which was formed in 1993, launched the network to capitalize on its success from its two television stations in Mexico City – XHDF-TV (channel 13) and XHIMT-TV (channel 7) – which maintained a lineup of programs that helped it quickly grow to maintain a 36% ratings share during primetime against competition from the established Televisa networks. Azteca founder Ricardo Salinas Pliego had made previous attempts at entering into U.S. television during the late 1990s; it made a failed attempt to acquire an equity interest in Telemundo in 1998, but eventually agreed to a short-lived co-production agreement with the network. In 1999, the network also tried to negotiate a joint venture with upstart network Hispanic Television Network; CEO Marco Camacho had also rejected an exclusive content agreement between HTVN and Azteca due to questions over the appeal of the latter's programming to Latino Americans, although a spokesman for TV Azteca stated that the network pulled out due to a lack of confidence in HTVN's overall distribution.
On December 21, 2000, the Pappas-Azteca joint venture received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch a full-power television station in Los Angeles, California where its headquarters would be based, KIDN-TV (channel 54), later renamed KAZA-TV prior to its launch. The network, through both companies, planned to acquire stations in twelve markets to serve as Azteca América's charter stations. The plans for the network were eventually scaled down, as a slowdown of the economy hurt Azteca América's plans to secure financing to purchase stations in Dallas (where Pappas-Azteca attempted to acquire independent station KXTX, which was bought by Telemundo instead for $65 million) and El Paso, Texas. Also playing a factor was the December 2000 purchase of USA Broadcasting's 13 major-market television stations by Univision Communications, which prevented the network from initially obtaining charter stations in major markets such as New York City and Miami; the Pappas-Azteca venture also called off a $37.5 million deal to purchase WSAH in Bridgeport, Connecticut from Shop at Home, Inc. (which would have given Azteca América a station in the New York City market) in November 2000.
KAZA-TV signed on the air as Azteca América's lone station on July 28, 2001 as part of a phased rollout cited by lower viewership during the summer months; Pappas also announced that it would switch some of its existing stations to Azteca América and attempt to purchase additional stations to affiliate with the network. In October 2001, TV Azteca announced that it would scrap plans to buy additional stations and instead distribute Azteca América's programming through agreements struck through prospective affiliates, with Pappas and TV Azteca sharing 50% ownership of the network.
Pappas Telecasting Companies gave up its majority stake in Azteca America in early 2002. The network eventually grew to nine affiliates by that September, reaching 28% of the Hispanic market, with stations added in markets such as Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah, San Francisco and Sacramento, California. The network eventually gained an affiliate in the lucrative Miami market in November 2002, when it affiliated with WPMF-LP (channel 31); this was followed in 2003 by in New York City.
However, Price noted that no award has been presented to a Spanish-language production on the national level since 1998, underscoring the need for separate recognition. By the next year, Azteca América was reaching 53% of the U.S. Hispanic population. In 2003, the network covered 69% of the Hispanic audience and the number increased to 78% by 2004. In the summer of 2006, the network relocated its corporate headquarters to the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California. Another possible blow to Azteca almost occurred in November 2006, when NBC Universal asked the FCC to deny the license renewal of KAZA-TV, alleging among other things that TV Azteca was corrupt and that TV Azteca used its power in Mexico to manipulate police into raiding a studio where a program that was being produced for Telemundo was filmed; the company accused TV Azteca lacked "the character qualifications" required by federal law to retain a broadcast license. The FCC stated it would not consider issues of misconduct outside the scope of its jurisdiction unless the behavior was "so egregious as to shock the conscious and evoke almost-universal disapprobation" and that it was inappropriate to intervene in a "private dispute;" the Commission renewed the KAZA license through December 2014 on April 13, 2007.
Also in April 2007, Pappas Telecasting Companies announced that it would discontinue its relationship with Azteca América, and drop affiliations with the network in several markets such as Houston and San Francisco. In May 2008, Azteca América announced that it would layoff about 30 employees in a cost-cutting move amid a weak advertising market due to the deepening recession at the time. On July 16, 2012, Azteca América became the third major Spanish-language broadcast network in the United States (after Telemundo and Univision) to begin broadcasting in high definition. The HD feed is available in certain markets via the network's national cable feed, as well as through many of Azteca's over-the-air affiliates.
At the network's upfront presentation in New York City on May 13, 2014, the network announced that it would be changing its name to simply Azteca, citing that the change "reflects the network's core audience, an audience composed of the market segment that makes up the largest portion of the U.S. Hispanic market." The network phased in the revised branding on-air later that month.
The network's programming includes telenovelas and other drama series, reality and variety series, and news programming. Among the regular series airing on the network include the conflict talk show Cosas de la Vida ("Things of Life"), the "caught-on-tape"-focused newsmagazine Al Extremo ("The Extreme") and the music competition program La Academia ("The Academy"). Azteca also airs a five-hour block of Spanish-dubbed American programs aimed at children in a split-schedule format each Saturday and Sunday morning (with the first two hours airing Saturdays and the final three on Sundays), designed to meet the Federal Communications Commission's educational and informational programming requirements. It also airs feature films on weekends, consisting mainly Spanish-dubbed English language films in primetime on Saturdays and on Sunday afternoons as well as some imported films from Spanish-speaking countries.
Most of the programming on Azteca América is provided by TV Azteca's three television stations in Mexico City – XHDF-TV ("Azteca 13"), XHIMT-TV ("Azteca 7") and XHTVM-TV ("Proyecto 40") – with most of the programs being scheduled at different airtimes than those on each of the three station's schedule (for example, XHDF's Hechos Noche airs on Azteca on a two-hour delay).
In addition, Azteca complements its Mexican-originated programming with a lineup of programs from international producers and distributors such as Nickelodeon Latin America (which provides Azteca with youth-oriented telenovelas that air as part of the network's afternoon schedule; which, as such, makes it one of the few remaining commercial broadcast networks in the U.S. to provide non-educational programming and weekday daytime programs aimed at audiences younger than 18 years of age) and American film studios such as Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures (which provide the network with film content).
Azteca also broadcasts sports programming including Liga MX association football matches, the Saturday afternoon wrestling showcase Lucha Azteca and Saturday evening boxing matches under the banner Box Azteca.
Azteca maintains a news division and produces two half-hour newscasts that air on Monday through Friday evenings, the early evening Noticiero Nacional Azteca: Edición Vespertina and the late evening Noticiero Nacional Azteca: Edición Nocturna; it also broadcasts a three-hour morning news program Hechos AM on weekdays as well as the weeknightly sports highlight and discussion program Deporte Caliente.
The news division started in 2003, with the debut of the national news program Hechos América – a U.S. version of TV Azteca's newscast Hechos – which was originally anchored by Rebecca Sáenz and José Martín Sámano. In May 2008, the network relocated production of its national newscasts as well as the local newscasts on Los Angeles flagship station KAZA-TV from the network's Glendale headquarters to Mexico City due to the budget cuts enacted that month, resulting in the layoffs of 19 employees in its news division; the network retained reporters, producers and assignment editors in Los Angeles and correspondents in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Washington, D.C. On February 6, 2009, Azteca announced that it would cancel its newscasts and announced plans to launch a bi-national newscast produced out of TV Azteca's Mexico City station XHIMT-TV.
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- www.us.azteca.com – Azteca official website
- www.aztecaamericacorporate.com – Azteca corporate website