Univision Communications hired Randy Falco, a longtime television executive known for his operational skills. Falco -former chief executive of AOL and former president of the NBC Universal television group- becomes executive vice president and chief operating officer of Univision. He will oversee all business functions — advertising sales, marketing,  research and corporate development — and report to Joe Uva, Univision's chief executive.

Falco most recently was chairman and chief executive of AOL Inc.  After leaving the Internet firm, he served as an informal consultant to Comcast Corp. as it prepared its planned acquisition of controlling interest of NBC Universal.

Some thought Falco's relationship with Comcast might lead to his return to NBC, where he spent more than 30 years and earned a reputation as the executive most responsible for making "the trains run on time." Falco was in line for the top job at NBC, but he left in 2006 when it became clear that Jeff Zucker would get the nod.

The move signals that Univision's board — headed by Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban — felt it needed to strengthen its executive bench after a rocky two years as the company navigated through the recession, which brought a downturn in advertising spending, and the restructuring of its mountain of debt. Univision last fall resolved years of acrimony with its longtime Mexican programming partner, Grupo Televisa, ensuring the continued supply of the hugely popular telenovelas.

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