Univision is the oldest and largest Spanish-language TV network in the United States, the #5 network when counted among the English-language networks, and perhaps one of the most high-profile symbols of the growth of Latino/Hispanic culture in the United States. Its origins trace back to KCOR (now KWEX-DT), the first Spanish television station in the US, which went on the air in 1955 in San Antonio, Texas. KCOR failed to turn a profit, and the station quickly fell under the ownership of Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, founder of the Mexican network Televisa, and Emilio Nicolas Sr., the son-in-law of KCOR's founder Raul Cortez and producer of some of the station's variety shows.
The SIN/Televisa era (1962-1986)After acquiring KCOR, Nicolas and Vidaurreta turned the station around. In 1962 they made KCOR, along with stations in Los Angeles (KMEX) and Paterson, New Jersey (WXTV), the nucleus of the new Spanish International Network, the US' first all-Spanish TV network. The unfortunately-named SIN expanded into Miami, Chicago and across the western US over the next couple of decades, and made it onto cable and satellite systems during The Seventies in order to gain a national reach. SIN soon became the largest Spanish-language TV network in the US, thanks at least in part to its close relationship with the Mexican media powerhouse Televisa, which Vidaurreta also owned.In 1986, Nicolas sold his share of the network, leaving it firmly in the hands of Vidaurreta and Televisa. This prompted the FCC to investigate whether SIN's relationship with Televisa skirted the boundaries of media ownership laws, as many of SIN's competitors were alleging. That same year, Televisa's management's attempted to have SIN produce and broadcast a news program with Jacobo Zabludosky out of Miami, which caused half of the Miami staff (many of them Cuban exiles) to walk out in protest of what they saw as Zabludosky's soft views on Castro's Cuba. The end result was Televisa selling its share of SIN (now renamed Univision) to an American consortium led by Hallmark Cards, which had previously purchased some of Nicolas' share in the network.
The Univision era (1986-present)The ink was barely dry off the deal when Univision created three of its most defining programs: the morning show Mundo Latino (Latino World), Chilean TV personality Don Francisco's frantic, long-running Variety Show Sábado Gigante (Big Saturday), and the women's TV news magazine TV Mujer (Woman TV). Starting in 1993, under the stewardship of new owner Jerry Perenchio, its designs grew to a national scale, and it expanded and revamped its once-moribund news operations. KMEX, the Los Angeles O&O station that provided two-fifths of the network's revenue at the time, made history by becoming the first Spanish-language TV station to outperform the English-language stations. Such instances would become less anomalous as time went by — it overtook UPN and The WB nationally in the early 2000s, becoming the fifth-largest network overall, and in September 2010 it won the entire week on the strength of a popular telenovela's finale and a Prime Time Mexico/Ecuador soccer match. (The fact that the English networks were still burning off their summer programming also helped.)In 2008, Univision created a Saturday morning block, Planeta U, which airs (Spanish-dubbed) programs like Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, and Beakmans World.Univision still gets much of its programming, including most of its telenovelas, from Televisa, though in the past several years relations between the two networks have been strained due to what Televisa sees as unnecessary censorship of its shows by Univision. Much of this has to do with the fact that, in addition to Spanish obscenities, Univision also filters out words that have no negative connotations in Spanish but are considered obscene in English and other languages, or by other Latin American nations (for instance, what might be a mild curse word in Mexico not worthy for bleeping could easily be offensive to someone with heritage in Venezuela or Honduras).