Telemundo president Don Browne started working in television in 1967 inspired by network coverage of the civil rights struggle. He eventually rose to become the head of NBC News. Browne also managed NBC's South Florida owned-and-operated station before moving to Telemundo and working as COO under former president James McNamara. Browne moved into the top slot in April of last year. Browne recently talked to Hispanic Television Update, an edited transcript follows (Brown also discussed his take on the Hispanic upfront in this week’s issue of Multichannel News):
Q: What would you have done differently looking back at your first year?
A: Not much to tell you the truth. I was very fortunate. I was able to get a good idea, frankly through trial and error [as a COO] and I had a pretty good sense of what was needed. The strategy of original production was the only way to compete. I was fortunate in being able to assemble an excellent team. No question the two missing links were Particio Wills and Marco Santana. They bring a level of expertise that we've never had.
Q: Why do you think your ratings have gone up over the past year?
A: Our research and programming processes are designed specifically to reach and be relevant to the U.S. Hispanic audience. We are designing our content and programming specifically to speak to and be relevant to the [Hispanic] audience. It takes time to do that but the audience is speaking back to us and saying that they kind of like it.
Q: How do you think Univision’s sale might change the competitive landscape?
A: It really depends on who the players are. They have a lot of life in them. I have a lot of respect for them as competitors. [But] when you are for sale it creates uncertainty and anxiety.
Q: The MTV Tr3s strategy of buying distribution clearly responds to the limited carriage available to Hispanic cable networks. Telemundo recently purchased a station in
. Any thought of purchasing low power stations and programming them with mun2? Or as digital channels for the owned-and-operated stations become available what about putting mun2 on some of those channels?
A: All of the above. We are going to explore all those possibilities. For us it is extremely important to be in this particular space.
Q: You used to work with Mexican combat cameraman Epigmenio Ibarra covering the civil wars in
. Now you work together producing telenovelas. Do you miss working in news?
A: Yes, the answer is there is nothing more intoxicating than being told here’s a news story go jump on a plane and cover it. A novela is about a beginning, a middle and an end and keeping people engaged. [Ibarra] has adapted very well. He’s a great storyteller. It is very complicated to make things simple.
The other thing I enjoy is that in every novela we produce we create social themes such as education, health, immigration in order to enlighten, to empower. I am still involved creatively in terms of brainstorming those ideas. Television is a powerful tool and it is exciting. If you are telling stories that are relevant to your community you will watch.