This plan, which leaked in February, represents a bold departure for the companies in the 50-50 joint venture. ABC has long felt that it missed its chance to launch a news network, while Univision has focused on Spanish-language programming. But the companies see an opening by aligning with the fast-growing population of English-speaking Hispanics. They’ll start off with a Web presence this summer — in time for the presidential election — although the TV channel won’t be up until 2013. Competition for the audience is intensifying: News Corp plans to introduce Spanish-language MundoFox this fall. Also, Comcast has vowed to invest in Telemundo, Univision’s biggest rival. Here’s the announcement:

MAY 7 – NEW YORK, NY – ABC News and Univision News today announced they have agreed in principle to form a far-reaching, multiplatform joint venture dedicated to informing, empowering and inspiring Hispanic Americans in English while providing all audiences with uncompromising coverage of current events with a unique perspective. The landmark agreement would capitalize on Univision’s news leadership and expertise in reaching U.S. Hispanics and ABC’s global news leadership to serve over 50 million Hispanics, the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. The new 24/7 network will include America’s first English-language channel for English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics as well as integrated digital and social platforms. It will deliver news content focused on issues, lifestyle interests and culture of importance to Hispanics and will feature the trusted, award-winning journalists of ABC News and Univision News. Now for the first time Hispanic Americans will have a choice for uncompromising coverage of current events and lifestyle with a Latino perspective in English. The transaction is subject to the completion of definitive agreements.

Currently, Hispanics represent 16% of the total population in the United States, a number that is projected to double to 30% by 2050. Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population, wield considerable spending power of over $1 trillion, and have an increasing impact on social, economic and political trends.

“This exciting joint venture represents the latest example of our long-term strategy to broaden the reach of ABC. Our powerful premier news brand, combined with the world’s leading Hispanic media company, will create the nation’s first news and lifestyle channel targeted to this quickly expanding and important community,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.

“For more than five decades Univision has been the leader in serving Hispanics in the U.S. and this joint venture is an extension of our vision to deliver the most relevant news and information, regardless of language, to all Hispanics,” Cesar Conde, president, Univision Networks. “This alliance combines the expertise and brand strength of Univision News with ABC News’ leadership and is another example of Univision’s commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic America while connecting all audiences to Latino issues.”

“All of us at ABC News are thrilled to work with Univision,” said Ben Sherwood, president, ABC News. “Our mission is clear: To offer culturally relevant news, information and lifestyle programming to the large and thriving Latino audience in the United States. In these times of rapid change, we are very excited about this opportunity.”

“Univision News is proud to be working with ABC News in this groundbreaking venture to further deliver global news and investigative reporting to the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population which today is one of the most important influencers on the future of the United States and its role in the world,” said Isaac Lee, president, Univision News. “It will also provide all audiences with a multiplatform current events perspective on the issues that matter most to Latinos. This is an important moment for journalism in the U.S. and for the U.S. Hispanic community.”

A website, mobile and social media content are expected to debut this summer. The currently unnamed television channel is expected to launch in 2013. Editorial coverage will focus on the issues most relevant for U.S. Hispanics, including the economy, jobs, health care, immigration, education, politics, entertainment, health and wellness and more.

A management team is expected to be announced this summer. The network will have anchors and correspondents in major cities across the U.S. Additionally, ABC News and Univision News will share newsgathering and production resources.