EQUITY SAYS ADIOS TO SPANISH-LANGUAGE NEWS
The financially troubled Equity Media shut down its centralized Spanish-language newscast last Friday, leaving its Univision affiliates in six markets without evening and late news.
The affected full- and low-power stations were in Oklahoma City, Naples-Ft. Myers, Fla.; Detroit; Amarillo, Texas; Salt Lake City and Fort Smith-Fayetteville, Ark.
Tom Arnost, the president and CEO of the Equity station group, blamed the slumping economy and declines in auto, real estate and other key advertising categories.
Given the revenue shortfalls, âit would have been financially irresponsible to continue the news operation,â Arnost said. âItâs very costly.â
The two daily newscasts were anchored at Equity Media production and distribution hub in Little Rock, Ark. But they were localized with reports from two reporters stationed in each of the six markets.
âIt was terrific that we were able to do it has long as we did,â Arnost added.
In April, publicly traded Equity announced that it was financial hot water, triggering a sharp drop in its stock price.
âIf the company is unable to obtain adequate additional sources of capital in the near term it will need to cease all or a portion of its operations, seek protection under U.S. bankruptcy laws and regulations, engage in a restructuring or undertake a combination of these and other actions,â it said in a public filing.
To raise capital, the company agreed to spin off five low-power stations in Florida to Arnost and another officer of the company for $8 million.
Arnost said that other refinancing efforts are on-going and that news of those efforts should be released soon.
Equity claims to be the second-largest affiliate group of the top-ranked Univision and Telefutura Spanish-language networks with 19 affiliates (16 Univision and three Telefutura), 13 of which are in the nationâs top 65 Hispanic television markets.
The company also operates five My Network TV affiliates, four Fox affiliates and one ABC affiliate.
Equity is also the distributor of Retro Television Network, a 24-hour network comprising mostly classic TV shows that is intended for broadcast on secondary digital channels.
Over the past several months, Equity has announced a series of affiliation agreements with TV stations belonging to Cox Television, Allbritton, Barrington, Capitol, Media General and Scripps.