As expected, the owners of Los Angeles television station KMEX and 12 other Spanish-language stations in the United States announced Tuesday that they will appeal last week's decision by a federal administrative law judge not to renew their licenses.
Filing the appeal will have the dual effect of suspending the revocation proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission as well as giving the owners time to plan strategy after the decision by FCC Judge John H. Conlin.
"We will take all steps possible to preserve Spanish-language television for our viewers," Reynold (Rene) Anselmo, majority owner of the stations, said in a prepared statement passed out at a news conference at Channel 34's Hollywood studios.
New York Meeting
Anselmo could not be reached for further comment, but KMEX President and General Manager Danny Villanueva told reporters that the owners of the 13 stations will meet in New York this weekend with Mexican media tycoon Emilio Azcarraga, who has a 20% interest in the stations, to discuss the situation.
Villanueva declined to say what likely course of action might result from the meetings.
"The list of options run all the way from protracted litigation (against Conlin's ruling) to immediate and total sale (of the stations)," he said.
He added that a restructuring of the ownership seemed to be the "most likely" option, but declined to be specific.
In his ruling, Conlin said that Azcarraga and his family--considered to be one of the most powerful in Mexico--had created an "abnormal relationship" that made the Spanish-language stations dependent on their influence and direction. The relationship, according to Conlin, stemmed from the long association between the Azcarraga family, which controls the giant Televisa TV network in Mexico, and Anselmo, a U.S. citizen who owns a 25% interest in the Spanish-language stations here.
The appeal, which could be litigated for several years, will go before the FCC's review board for consideration. If unsuccessful there, the stations' owners can ask the full commission to review the decision.
The three companies filing the appeal are Spanish International Communications Corp., which owns KMEX, KFTV-TV in Fresno, WLTV-TV in Miami, WXTV-TV in Paterson, N.J., and KWEX-TV in San Antonio; Bahia de San Francisco Television Co., which holds the license for KDTV-TV in San Francisco, and Seven Hills Television Co., owner of KTVW-TV in Phoenix.
Also covered by the appeal are smaller stations licensed to the three companies in Bakersfield, Austin, Tex., Denver, Hartford, Conn., Philadelphia and Tucson.
Villanueva did not rule out the possibility that the Azcarraga family's interests in the stations could be bought, although he said a person who might be interested could have second thoughts "since the licenses are in question."
The worth of KMEX and four other Spanish International stations is estimated by industry analysts at $165 million.