'La Cebolla?' Satirical website The Onion sells stake to Univision

NEW YORK: Most business merger stories have no need for a "this is not a joke" disclaimer, but this one did: Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications Inc announced a deal to buy a stake in humour website "The Onion." 

There was instant social media outpouring about what the future holds for a site whose satirical news stories skewer topics from gun ownership in the United States to the clichéd dullness of media articles about ordinary people. 

La cebolla – Spanish for the onion – prompted some of the wit. "Univision buys controlling stake in the @TheOnion. Will now be called El Cebolla. Americans outraged at more jobs moving out of the country," tweeted @charles_monsoon. 

Univision said it acquired a stake in digital media company Onion Inc, which also owns parody site ClickHole and digital video network Onion Studios, as part of its efforts to expand its reach among a younger audience and bolster its comedy portfolio. In a statement, the company gave few details of the transaction but extolled the growing role of comedy in culture and the exchange of ideas, paying the satirical site a serious compliment. 

"The Onion has been, and continues to be, a leading force of this phenomenon of intellectual, social, cultural and satirical commentary online," said Isaac Lee, Univision's chief news and digital officer and CEO of Fusion. Fusion is a multicultural media company co-founded by Univision and Walt Disney Co. 

According to NPR, which earlier reported the news, Univision has acquired a controlling stake. 

The Onion's reputation for satire initially prompted Twitter users to ask, "Really?" 

News outlets sought to clarify that it was true. NPR (@NPR) tweeted: "Area Satiric Publication The Onion Sold To Univision (Seriously)." 

Some on Twitter pondered what a combined company might look like. 

“Now that Univision bought @TheOnion, it's only a matter of time before it merges with Fusion to become Funion,” tweeted Forbes reporter Ryan Mac (@RMac18). 

Others said that Univision ownership could mean trouble for The Onion, given a squabble last August when Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump ejected Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference after he tried to ask a question. 

"After learning it was purchased by Univision, Donald Trump vows to build a 'great wall' around The Onion," tweeted Chuck Edwards (@ItsChuckEdwards), referring to Trump's proposal to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. 

The Onion's website on Jan 19 included a piece on Iranian nuclear scientists flushing enriched uranium down the toilet and a classically mock parochial article about people in Raleigh, North Carolina commenting on the number of bugs in their homes. — Reuters

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