Azteca (TV network)
|Type||Spanish language broadcast television network|
(via OTA digital television in many markets; national feed available on select cable providers elsewhere)
(via U.S.-based OTA affiliates and select cable providers)
|Founded||September 8, 2000
by Ricardo Salinas Pliego
|Slogan||Más cerca de ti
(Closer to You)
|Owner||Azteca International Corporation|
|Luis J. Echarte
(CEO, Azteca International Corporation)
|July 28, 2001|
|Azteca América (2001–2014)|
(formatted to downconverted widescreen in many markets)
|Affiliates||List of affiliates|
Azteca (Spanish pronunciation: [asˈteka]; originally known as Azteca América from July 28, 2001 until May 2014) is an American Spanish-language 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 television 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. Its programming consists of a mix of telenovelas, sports, reality and variety series, news programming, and feature films (both Spanish-dubbed versions of American films and imported films produced in Spanish-speaking countries).
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). The network also distributes a national cable network feed that is distributed directly to cable, satellite and IPTV providers as an alternative method of distribution in markets without either the availability or the demand for a locally based owned-and-operated or affiliate station. The network's flagship station KAZA-TV in Los Angeles is the highest-rated station in Azteca's portfolio.
The network was formed through a programming alliance between Mexico-based broadcaster TV Azteca and Visalia, California-based television station owner Pappas Telecasting Companies announced on September 8, 2000; the two companies planned to launch a new Spanish language broadcast network during the second quarter of 2001, that would act 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 it owned 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 charter stations of the network, which was originally named Azteca América. Pappas and Azteca invested close to $500 million to start up the network, with an additional $450 million allocated for station acquisitions and a $129 million loan made 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 with its two television stations in Mexico City – XHDF-TV (channel 13) and XHIMT-TV (channel 7), respectively branded as "Azteca Trece" and "Azteca Siete" – which maintained a lineup of programs, including telenovelas and other serialized dramas with socially relevant themes, that helped it quickly grow to maintain a 36% ratings share during prime time against competition from the longer established and dominant 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 and program distribution agreement with the network. In 1999, the network also tried to negotiate a joint venture with the upstart 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 national distribution.
On December 21, 2000, the Pappas-Azteca joint venture received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a full-power television station in Los Angeles, California (where it would base its headquarters), KIDN-TV (channel 54) – which was later reassigned the call letters 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 world 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 thirteen 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 (now WZME) 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 with the intent of affiliating them 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 later that year by WNYN-LP in New York City.
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; that 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 for, among other things, allegations made by the company of corporate corruption within TV Azteca, which it also accused of using its power in Mexico to "engage in the wrongful use of force" to manipulate police into raiding a studio where the Telemundo-produced reality series Quinceanera was being filmed and slanderous statements made in a news story featured on a TV Azteca news program that accused then-NBC Universal parent General Electric and Grupo Casa Saba – whose parent company, Grupo Xtra, was involved in plans to form a Mexican version of Telemundo – of fraud and corporate corruption as a means to torpedo the approval of Telemundo and Grupo Xtra's network license application. With the claims it levied, NBC Universal stated that TV Azteca lacked "the character qualifications" required by federal law to retain a broadcast license. The FCC Commissioner's Board stated that the agency 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 for seven years (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 disaffiliate the network from stations it owned 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 measure amid a weak advertising market due to the deepening recession at the time.
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.
As of 2015[update], Azteca operates on a 150-hour network programming schedule. It provides various types of general entertainment programming to owned-and-operated and affiliated stations Monday through Fridays from 3:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. All other time periods are filled with infomercials. Affiliates are allowed the option to carry local programming – including local public affairs programs, local brokered programming and, less commonly, newscasts – in place of regular programming or infomercials aired within the base Azteca schedule.
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 prime time on Saturdays and on Sunday afternoons as well as some imported films from Spanish-speaking countries.
Most of the programming content featured on the U.S.-based Azteca network is sourced from TV Azteca's three television stations in Mexico City – XHDF-TV ("Azteca 13"), XHIMT-TV ("Azteca 7") and XHTVM-TV ("Proyecto 40") – with several programs being scheduled at different airtimes than those on the schedules of each of the three stations (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 Azteca, 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 maintains a news division and produces two half-hour newscasts that air on Monday through Friday evenings, the early evening Hechos ("Acts") and the late evening Hechos: Edición Nocturna ("Acts: Late Edition") (the evening newscasts were originally titled Noticiero Nacional Azteca until 2014, when both programs were retitled to closely align the network's news programs with those aired by the Mexican Azteca network); 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 ("Hot Sports").
The network formed its news division in 2003, with the debut of the national evening news program Hechos América – a U.S.-based 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 aired by its 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 within its news division; the network retained reporters, producers and assignment editors that were based in Los Angeles and correspondents based 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.
The network also maintains a sports division, Azteca Deportes, which is separate from the division operated by its Mexico-based sister network and is responsible for the production of sports content on Azteca. The division produces association football matches from Liga MX, which typically air under the brand "Fut Azteca"; in 2013, the network began airing a prime time match-of-the-week involving teams within the league on Friday nights under the brand "Futboleros Viernes" ("Friday Football").
In addition, Azteca broadcasts a weekly wrestling showcase on Saturday afternoons, Lucha Azteca, and Box Azteca, a weekly prime time boxing series that airs on most Saturday nights.
As of October 2015[update], Azteca has current and pending affiliation agreements with 42 television stations encompassing 27 states. Counting only conventional over-the-air affiliates, the network has a combined national reach of 32.74% of all households in the United States (or 102,289,197 Americans with at least one television set). In many areas of the U.S. where the network is not available through broadcast television, Azteca provides a national cable network feed that is distributed directly to cable, satellite and IPTV providers as an alternative method of distribution in markets without either the availability or the demand for a locally based owned-and-operated or affiliate station.
Azteca's master feed is transmitted in 1080i high definition. However, only seven of the network's affiliate stations currently transmit the network's programming in HD, all but two of which carry the network feed in 720p high definition; the remainder of its over-the-air stations transmit Azteca programming in 480i standard definition either due to technical considerations for affiliates of other major networks that carry Azteca programming on a digital subchannel or because a primary feed Azteca affiliate has not yet modified or upgraded their transmission equipment to allow content to be presented in HD.
Azteca América became the third major Spanish-language network in the United States (after Telemundo and Univision) to provide its programming in high definition through the network and select local stations with the launch of its simulcast feed, Azteca América HD, on July 16, 2012. All of the network's first-run entertainment, news and sports programming, as well as specials and select acquired programs, have been presented in HD since then (with the current exception of archived programs that were made prior to 2012 – including comedy series such as Te Caché ("I Got You") and Ya Cayó Renovado ("It Fell Renovated"), and select children's programs – and were originally produced in 4:3 standard definition, as well as most older Mexican-produced feature films). The high-definition 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.
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