Blame construction delays and a slowing financing stream for the quiet arrival of KAZA-TV (Channel 54) to Los Angeles, which marked the launch of Spanish-language network Azteca America Inc.

Last fall, Mexico's TV Azteca SA de CV and Visalia-based Pappas Telecasting Cos. had announced plans for a major launch of Azteca America. It had been set to include some 10 channels reaching up to 40 percent of the Latino market in the United States.

But with the nation in the midst of a media recession, the timing has turned out to be bad. Azteca America made its debut as the nation's third Spanish-language network with only KAZA-TV.

Adding to the problems was the delay by a couple of months in the construction of KAZA-TV's broadcast tower. This caused the station to miss the crucial May sweeps period, said Michael Angelos of Pappas Telecasting.

Azteca America also hit a bump in the road when it was beat out by Telemundo last month in a bidding contest for KXTX-TV in Dallas. The new network had wanted to originate its signal out of a Dallas station but is now doing it out of TV Azteca's facilities in Mexico.

Not for Sale

Rumors that the second largest Spanish-language network is up for sale aren't true, according to Rick Blangiardi, president of Telemundo Group Inc.

Telemundo owns KVEA-TV (Channel 52) in Los Angeles. There has been talk that Viacom Inc. and others are out to buy the company, which has seen significant growth in the last couple of months and is gaining on its giant rival, Univision.

A more definitive answer may emerge after Telemundo's board meets later this month.

News From Downtown

Los Angeles Downtown News has added an executive editor to its employee roster after going without one for years.

Nikki Finke, a former Los Angeles Times writer, recently left her post as West Coast editor of New York Magazine to take on the resurrected position, which puts her in charge of editorial content at the downtown weekly.

Finke's arrival and a recent redesign of the paper may mark the beginning of a new era at the Downtown News. "I want to make it sophisticated and smart and consequential but also cutting-edge," Finke said.

Her plans include bringing on new writers and transforming the paper into something that appeals to an audience beyond downtown L.A.

"I want people to talk about it," she said.

Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at 323-549-5225 ext. 229 or cpeschiutta@la

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