L.A. Duopolies Grapple With Changes at TV Stations

Newsrooms: Production teams at L.A. television stations are facing unsettled days.

New KVEA Manager Faces Clash of Cultures

By CARLOS MARTINEZ
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

When Manuel Abud took over last month as general manager at Glendale's KVEA-TV (Channel 52), he didn't have just the usual tasks ahead of him of beefing up ad sales or fine-tuning programming. He's had to deal with the change of culture that comes with a new corporate parent.

"It's going to be a challenge," said Abud. "This is the first time I've run a television station and I now happen to run two stations at once in a difficult market."

Abud, former head of Telemundo Cable, the company's cable channel, is charged with leading a station that has yet to beat longtime Spanish language-market leader KMEX-TV (Channel 34) in the annual ratings race.

But perhaps more challenging is meshing with NBC-owned and operated KNBC-TV (Channel 4), which will share some of its resources with KVEA as part of NBC's $2.7 billion acquisition of Telemundo.

"On the one hand, I'm very close to the Telemundo Network and the mentality of where they are taking things but, on the other hand, I'm trying to immerse myself in the NBC culture," he said.

Grappling with two distinctive entities the Spanish-language KVEA and the English-language KNBC has given Abud cause for both worry and excitement.

"I don't have to worry about not having a budget to do different things. I have the NBC resources and our own and that's exciting," he said.

The two stations plan to share satellite equipment, broadcast feeds and on-air personnel on occasion, but Abud admitted there are limits to the cooperation between the two stations.

Still, some changes are already apparent. KVEA sports anchor Mario Solis occasionally does sports on KNBC's newscasts while KNBC shares its mobile units with KVEA's news operation from time to time. NBC's bilingual network correspondents have pitched in with reports in Spanish for Telemundo's national newscasts.

One casualty has been KWHY-TV (Channel 22), which KVEA acquired a year ago. That deal, which preceded NBC's acquisition of Telemundo, was made with the intention of competing more effectively with Univision Communications Inc.-owned KMEX, which also owns KFTR-TV (Channel 46).

Federal restrictions allow station owners to own a maximum of two stations in one market, so NBC must divest itself of KWHY.

Abud said KVEA's mission would remain the same to inform and entertain its viewing audience. "NBC has a mandate for us to maintain our identity," he said.

Abud has begun an outreach effort, sending its news anchors to broadcast from remote locations in the predominately Latino communities of Huntington Park and East Los Angeles.

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