A first: South Florida viewers to get CNN Latino — for free

06/17/2013 6:00 AM

06/17/2013 12:24 AM

For the first time, South Florida viewers will be able to see Spanish-language programming produced by the Cable News Network (CNN) delivered for free via a broadcast signal.

Come August, CNN Latino Miami will be broadcast on TV’s Channel 11 and also on basic cable.

The new venture is part of an effort by Turner Broadcasting System to create a national Spanish-language network through affiliation agreements with stations in local markets. The goal: to reach 65 percent of Hispanic households, viewed as an untapped market.

The new local station, WDFL-11 Miami, will carry an eight-hour programming block specifically tailored to the U.S. Latino audience. Unlike CNN en Español, an international 24-hour news cable channel, CNN Latino will feature a spectrum of programming, including documentaries, talk shows, news analyses and lifestyle programs.

“It’s a bet on broadcast television to reach a mass audience,” said Cynthia Hudson, senior vice president and general manager of CNN en Español and Hispanic strategy for CNN/U.S., who will announce the launch of the local channel on Monday.

“While there are many options on the market, they are all very similar. There is a space to differentiate,” she said.

The birth of CNN Latino also marks the return to television of popular television host María Elvira Salazar, who was abruptly ousted by WGEN-TV, a MundoFox Broadcasting affiliate. This time around, her prime-time talk show program, María Elvira, will be syndicated and broadcast simultaneously on CNN Latino channels along the East Coast.

“It is a homecoming,” said Salazar, former host of Noticiero Telemundo-CNN, the first program produced by CNN en Español a year after its creation in 1997. “But it is a house that has grown and is much stronger now that Hispanics are much more respected.”

Turner Broadcasting System, a Time Warner company, is not the only mainstream media conglomerate that is targeting U.S. Hispanics. Latinos represent 19 percent of TV audiences ages 18 to 49, the sweet spot for TV advertising, according to the Nielsen ratings agency.

Last year, News Corp. launched MundoFox in an alliance with RCN Televisión de Colombia, while Walt Disney Co. has joined forces with Univision Communications to create Fusion, a Doral-based 24-hour news and lifestyle network in English for Latinos that will debut this fall. Telemundo, which is owned by NBC-Universal, and Univision and its secondary broadcast network, UniMás, currently broadcast Spanish-language content across the United States.

The new CNN Latino programming was rolled out in Los Angeles and other cities earlier this year; more will be added in the coming months.

“Launching the CNN brand through local stations has merit and possibilities,” said Arturo Villar, a veteran analyst who publishes Hispanic Market Weekly. “They will steal the audience of Channels 23 [Univision] and 51 [Telemundo], and local channels like Mega TV and America TeVé.”

Locally, CNN has signed an affiliation agreement with a newly formed company, MIA-TV, for the CNN Latino venture in South Florida. MIA-TV owners include The Isaías Group, originally from Ecuador. The group already operates CNN Latino affiliates in New York, Tampa and Orlando — also launched this year.

MIA-TV will deliver content both via cable and broadcast, thanks to agreements with local companies. Telemiami, an independent cable station that for three decades has focused on serving the Cuban-American community, will merge with MIA-TV. Telemiami is distributed by Comcast on Channel 18, a privileged position that benefits a new channel, according to CNN en Español executives. It is also transmitted by other cable providers in the basic package.

In addition, MIA-TV has leased the broadcast signal of WDFL-LD Channel 11, a low-power station owned by Paramount Communications Broadcasting that currently targets the Caribbean community of South Florida. It is broadcast throughout South Florida. Tomas Johansen, former general manager of WLTV-Univision 23, will serve as president and general manager of WDFL-11 CNN Latino Miami.

Judith Prado, Telemiami general manager and part owner of MIA-TV, said the merged entity will keep most of Telemiami’s existing program but will reconfigure its schedules to make way for the eight-hour block of CNN Latino, from 3 to 11 p.m.

“The programming will be a combination of local content, but aiming for the quality of CNN, and CNN Latino programming,’’ Prado said.

MIA-TV will have studios in Hialeah, where María Elvira will be made, in addition to the old Telemiami studios at 2920 NW Seventh St. Prado declined to give the exact amount invested in the new studios except to say it was in the seven figure range.

Six of the eight hours of programming from CNN Latino will be original content, while the remaining two hours will come from CNN en Español.

María Elvira

All programs can tap the massive CNN resources, including its network of international correspondents, as well as other resources of the Time Warner family.

“The public is the big winner,’’ Salazar said.

Other news personalities on CNN Latino Miami are Camilo Egaña, Fernando del Rincón and Ismael Cala. Personalities currently appearing on Telemiami, Tomás García Fusté and Roberto Rodríguez Tejera, will remain on air.

“We will respect the intelligence and taste of our audience,” Hudson said. “You won’t see silly comedians, dancers or singing contests.”

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