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August 16, 1999

Independent Spanish TV

Recent talk of a third network (HMW 7/26/99) has drawn attention to the phenomenon of independent Spanish language TV stations, affiliated with neither Univision nor Telmundo. It may not be well known but there are more than 30 of these independents, in 19 markets ranging from #1 ranked Los Angeles through # 44, Yakima, and potentially covering over 65% of the Hispanic U.S.

These facts alone give credence to the concept of a third network, considering that Telemundo sprang from a much smaller start-up based on Blair and Netspan's half dozen or so in the late 70's.

Tom Castro, president of El Dorado communications, sees a parallel to the time before formation of Telemundo, when several independent stations had various informal relationships ands wondered whether a second network was economically feasible. While he thinks viability is unclear at the moment, Castro foresees the possibility "of a two-tiered system, with Univision continuing to command their well deserved but high and rising rates, with some advertisers continuing to pay those rates and others concentrating their spending with Telemundo and this potential third network."
 
 
Among the sales representatives which each handle several of these stations are SMRT, Team El Dorado, Energy Communications, and TVI. SMRT recently cancelled its sales contracts with six of the seven stations it represented (HMW 7/19/99).The stations are of various types, U.S. based and Mexican, UHF and VHF, Low power, full power, and overpowered, Televisa owned or totally independent, sometimes with no ratings, sometimes beating their Univision or Telemundo competitors.What are the differences that give the independents an audience in their markets? Sheryl Mariscal, National Sales Manager of Energy Communications, which handles stations in San Diego and Yuma-El Centro, explains that her stations are all Mexican-licensed, along the California/Mexico border, and owned by Televisa, the same company that provides much of Univision's U.S. programming. The Televisa stations broadcast the same Televisa novellas a month or two before Univision. Why do the independents get less attention from media buyers?
Mariscal says "the U.S. networks offer an easy way to buy national coverage and less money is left for spot buys, especially so since the innovation of "upfronts" by the U.S Hispanic networks. The 'X' stations don't get always get reported in the research; there may be confusion when a diary sample member in San Diego reports watching Sábado Gigante, which runs on the Televisa station as well as the Univision station." Where is the strength? "Some of the older Mexican stations broadcast on VHF channels (2-13) and use higher power transmitters than currently allowed in the U.S. This allows at least one of these stations to be received in Los Angeles." Sheryl likes the idea of a third network, thinking it will enhance the advertising industry's awareness of these stations. 

Xavier Ortiz runs SMRT (Spanish Media Rep Team), which he co-owns with the Liberman organization (owners of LA's KRCA). He sees the key difference for the independents being their locally-focused programming. His take on the third network concept is that it would diminish that local identity which is the key attraction to the audience of the independents. 

 

 
Independent Spanish Language Television Stations

DMA

 
DMA
% U.S. Hisp. HH

Station

Ch

Dallas
2.54
K44DW
44
El Paso
2.05
XEPM
2
 
 
XHIJ
44
 
 
XHJCI
32
XHJUB
56
Fresno
2.05
KVXM
7
McAllen-Brwnsv.
2.42
XERV
9
XHAB
7
KGBT
4
Houston
3.69
KACY
24
Laredo
0.57
XHBR
11
Los Angeles
17.49
KNET
38
KRCA
62
KWHY
22
Miami
5.68
WEYS
22
WJAN
41
New York
12.16
WXNY
39
Phoenix
2.25
KPHZ
58
Sacramento
1.98
KCYM
15
KDOM
62
San Antonio
3.70
KVAW
16
XHPN
3
XHPNN
52
XHPNT
46
San Diego
2.17
KDIS
17
XEWT
12
XHBJ
45
XHS
23
XHUAA
57
San Francisco
3.99
KBIT
30
Tucson
1.06
KTAZ
25
Yakima
0.33
KCJT/KENN
17/62
Yuma-El Centro
0.50
XHBC
3
XHBM
14
XHLRT
44
Total Pop.%
64.61
 
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