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ABC-TV, Univision May Start News Channel

NEW YORK, Feb. 7 (UPI) — ABC-TV and Univision Communications Inc. are in talks to start a 24-hour cable-news channel for English-speaking U.S. Latinos, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The unnamed channel would combine the resources of ABC News and Univision’s news division to compete against established U.S. cable channels CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, people familiar with the talks told the Journal and The New York Times.

The talks between ABC owner Walt Disney Co. and Univision, the largest Spanish-language U.S. broadcaster, are advanced, but no announcement appeared imminent, the Times said, and the deal could still unravel, the Journal said.

If it goes through, the companies would seek to have the network, to be based in Miami, where Univision has studios, up and running before the November elections, sources told the Journal, which first reported the negotiations.

Spokespeople for the Disney-ABC Television Group and Univision declined to comment.

For both Disney and Univision, the proposed venture would be a gamble that consumer spending by U.S. Hispanics will continue growing faster than that of the rest of the population, the Journal said.

It would also be a recognition that U.S.-born Hispanics, who often speak English more than Spanish, are responsible for Hispanic population growth more than Spanish-speaking immigrants, the newspaper said.

“A generation that does not recognize itself as totally Hispanic and is not widely accepted as fully American is building its own identity,” Maria Elena Ferrer, whose Humanamente business consulting firm works with Hispanic-Americans, told United Press International Monday.

“Disney and Univision are seeking to capitalize on a market niche that is not yet defined, and they will try to design that identity,” said Ferrer, a former advertising and media executive. “Let’s hope they don’t pigeonhole Hispanic-Americans with new stereotypes.”

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