Tuesday July 4th, 2006

New Houston Spanish-language broadcaster feeds network of five stations; LAT TV programming comes from Mexico, as well as Central and South American outlets...

A new television channel has been broadcasting in Houston since May. KCVH Channel 30 is the headquarters of LAT TV, a Spanish-language network of five stations offering programming produced in the home countries of its targeted viewers. LAT TV offers programming from producers and independent distributors in Latin America, Europe, Mexico and the United States.

"People have been waiting and saying 'finally I can see a little bit different programming' than what is presently available."

Patricia Torres-Burd is executive vice president of programming and branding.

"Most of our competitors have approached to only focus on the very important and very strong Mexican audience, but we feel very strongly that there's a whole other group of people that also need to be served, so we're very inclusive of the Mexican audience, but we also include all the other Central and South Americans that also make part of all the demographics in most of the cities. Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, you know, there's such an amazing quality of content. And up until now, there hasn't really been that many different choices, as far as that goes. So we're providing a very interesting choice for something that presently isn't been seen on the air."

Lorenzo Cano, associate director of the University of Houston's Center for Mexican-American Studies, welcomes programming from other Latin American countries.

"Well, I can tell you there's a growing population here in Houston from Honduras. The economy there was devastated there when Mitch, the Hurricane Mitch came by. I think a lot of people now really understand that because of what happened in New Orleans. The agriculture was impacted in Central America generally, but Honduras was hit real hard. More and more each day internationally to take care of their day-to-day necessities."

Torres-Burd says utilizing the output of so many other countries means the network's editors have to sometimes re-shape the programs for use here.

"And when you live in different countries, they've got legal rules as far as how many commercials they can have within an hour, the length of a program. Having lived in Eastern Europe for many years, I got the experience that whenever anything comes in, you sort of have to adjust it. Because we are over the air, we're not on cable, we're not a cablecaster we're very strict as meeting all the FCC regulations, so we look at all the content. If a show is either too long we may be place it in a longer time period, time-slot. We add natural commercial breaks where perhaps there isn't. When you buy a movie, it doesn't matter whether you buy it here in the United States or in another country, to re-purpose that movie that's been in the movie theater into television, you gotta add natural breaks to it. So this very talented team that we have looks at where to create a natural break so that the audience doesn't go 'oh my God, why did you stop it in mid-sentence,' you know?"

Lorenzo Cano says Spanish-language media is becoming more economically significant.

"You could say roughly, at the national level, 50 percent of the increase in the Latino population is due to immigration and about 50 percent to natural birth rates. And in some areas, in some markets like Los Angeles and Chicago it's probably higher in terms of the growth rate due to immigration. Again, immigration I think continues to fuel the increasing population of Latinos in the U.S., and of course with that comes this whole phenomena of more people who listen to Spanish and who communicate in Spanish. So since the numbers are very significant, and Latinos now are around more-or-less 40 million people in the United States, that kind of gives you an idea of that market."

LAT TV's output is also broadcast in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix and San Antonio.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...