In the wake of Univision's takeover of Fusion, we wondered whether the network would be able to adapt and offer a more inclusive product. Yesterday, Univision gave somewhat of a mixed response.
Al Punto Florida (APF) debuted immediately after its national namesake, airing throughout the network's affiliates in the Sunshine State- hosted by Fusion stalwart Mariana Atencio and (Univision Miami affiliate) WSVN-23 anchor Ambrosio Hernández. I admit that I was initially leery of the concept, thinking that APF would just be a localized mirror of the national show. But I was wrong.
What I got instead were fleeting glimpses of what Univision news programming could potentially look like if uncoupled from the goal of furthering immigration grievance politics. Stylistically, the show has a clean, upbeat look and feel. Pacing was crisp and the hosts have good working chemistry.
The show did have a Miami-only feel in terms of guests and content, but I suspect that this was more of a Day One booking issue than some regional bias. Over time, the show will broaden and become inclusive of other parts of the state- and if successful, one can imagine duplication in Texas, New York, California, and Illinois.
That said, there are areas of opportunity. The show's de rigeur presidential horse-race panel was inexplicably unbalanced. Seated with Atencio and Hernández were former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas (D) and Fernand Amandi- the "Amandi" half of the renowned (Democratic) Bendixen Amandi polling firm. In other words there were no Republicans present. Spanish-speaking Republicans of all ideological walks of life are not hard to book in Miami, and yet apparently none were to be found for a campaign panel. Strange, but not as strange as the program's last segment.
The main Al Punto franchise always looks to blend entertainment with politics, and APF sought to emulate that by bringing on radio host Enrique Sánchez. The segment started off allright with Sánchez, who is entertaining in his own right as Miami's top-rated host and has a compelling story to tell. But the segment soon devolved into intracorporate promotion and Hillary Clinton boosterism for its own sake, without a clear purpose.
The end result is a mixed bag- many bright spots, a few question marks and some of the same old biases. And thus, we saw Univision answer the question of whether it can pivot and offer a more inclusive product- with a resounding "we can if we feel like it".