The first history of Spanish-language television in the United States
“This first comprehensive scholarly history of Spanish-language television reimagines the birth of US television as not solely English speaking, geographically centered in New York, nor dominated by the big three English-language networks. . . . A good resource for scholars working in media studies, communication, marketing, and popular culture.”—Hispania
“A comprehensive, detailed, and well-written history of Spanish-language television in the United States. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding this important and growing part of U.S. media and the audiences it serves.”—Félix Gutiérrez, coauthor of Racism, Sexism, and the Media: Multicultural Issues into the New Communications Age
In the most comprehensive history of Spanish-language television in the United States to date, Craig Allen traces the development of two prominent yet little-studied powerhouses, Univision and Telemundo. Allen tells the inside story of how these networks fought enormous odds to rise as giants of mass communication within an English-dominated society.
The book begins in San Antonio, Texas, in 1961 with the launch of the first Spanish-language station in the country. From it rose the Spanish International Network (SIN), which would later become Univision. Conceived by Mexican broadcasting mogul Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta and created by unsung American television pioneers, Univision grew to provide a vast amount of international programming, including popular telenovelas, and was the first U.S. network delivered by satellite. After Telemundo was founded in the 1980s by Saul Steinberg and Harry Silverman, the two networks battled over audiences and saw dramatic changes in leadership. Today, Univision and Telemundo are multibillion-dollar television providers that equal ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in scale and stature. While Univision remains a beacon of U.S. television’s internationalization, Telemundo—owned by NBC—is a worldwide leader in producing Spanish-language programs.
Using archival sources and original interviews to reconstruct power struggles and behind-the-scenes intrigue, Allen uses this exciting narrative to question monolingual and Anglo-centered versions of U.S. television history. He demonstrates the endurance, innovation, and popularity of Spanish-language television, arguing that its story is essential to understanding the Latinx history of contemporary America.
Craig Allen is associate professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. A former TV news director and consultant, his books include Eisenhower and the Mass Media: Peace, Prosperity, and Prime-Time TV. Allen received the 2022 Broadcast Historian Award from the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation and the Broadcast Education Association for Univision, Telemundo, and the Rise of Spanish-Language Television in the United States.
A volume in the series Reframing Media, Technology, and Culture in Latin/o America, edited by Héctor Fernández L’Hoeste and Juan Carlos Rodríguez
Publication of the paperback edition made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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