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Univision's purchase of The Root marks firm's second move into African-American media

(May 27, 2015) Last week's announcement by Univision Communications Inc. that it had acquired online destination The Root was the second major foray into African-American media by the company best known for its Hispanic media properties. 

In December 2012, the UCI, which owns 62 television stations, inked a distribution agreement to carry the Bounce TV, the over the air black-targeted network, on its stations in San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Raleigh and Tampa.

"Bounce TV is the perfect companion for Univision as we continue to serve the New American Reality," said Kevin Cuddihy, then president of Univision Television Group. "It is a meaningful network that will serve African American audiences in our communities joining Univision to create a powerful one-two combination for viewers and advertisers."

UCI said in a statement that The Root will "leverage the company's extensive digital production facilities and publishing infrastructure, while its editorial team will retain its voice and stay true to its mission." With an average reach of five million unique visitors per month, according to ComScore, The Root is among the top Websites targeting African-Americans.

"Like Univision, The Root aims to serve a significant segment of America's diverse population. Our diverse communities are continuing to define the fabric of the country, from buying power, to social influence, to elections," said Isaac Lee, president of News and Digital for UCI and CEO of its multiracial, Millennials-focused Fusion network. "This game-changing union strengthens our ability to fulfill our shared missions of informing and empowering our communities."

Donna Byrd, VP, Digital and Publisher of The Root, is joining the leadership team of Univision Digital, which recently added executives Mark Lopez  as EVP, General Manager and Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer, Digital. Lyne Pitts will remain in her role as the managing editor of The Root.

Marla Skiko, EVP, Director of Digital Innovation for  SMG Multicultural (a unit of the Starcom MediaVest Group), told the Hispanic marketing news Website, Portada, that The Root complements Univision's digital offerings. "Univision has been broadening the reach of its content base for a few years now with the addition of English language content and content that appeals across the spectrum of the Hispanic audience, from more Spanish dominant to bicultural and bilingual. Adding in content that is appealing for the African American audience will enhance that spectrum and make their offering appealing to a broader group of multicultural users/viewers."

"This bold new partnership between Univision and The Root underscores the ties that have long bound people of color together throughout the Western Hemisphere and is a sign of even greater levels of communication, collaboration and exchange between these culturally vital groups of people," said Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and chairman of The Root, who co-founded The Root along with Donald Graham, CEO and chairman of Graham Holdings Company, in January of 2008.

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