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San Diego Spotlight

MEDIA : Tijuana's XEWT-TV Targets Booming Latino Audience

February 19, 1990|KEVIN BRASS

Tijuana-based Spanish-language station XEWT-TV (Channel 12) has launched its first major marketing campaign in San Diego, signaling a new round in the competition for the county's rapidly growing Latino television audience.

New advertisements touting the station as "Orgullosamente Mexicano," or "Proudly Mexican," began appearing on buses last week. A billboard campaign is scheduled to begin this week.

XEWT opened an office in Coronado two years ago and last year increased the number of local news crews from three to seven, including two specifically assigned to North County. The station also has four crews covering Baja California.

The Televisa-owned station is negotiating to be included in the local Arbitron ratings.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the nation's 13th largest Latino audience, according to Miami-based Strategy Research Corp. Latinos accounted for 17% of San Diego County's population in 1988, San Diego Assn. of Governments statistics show. And the Latino population is growing almost three times as fast as the non-Latino population.

"We made the determination that, for 29 years, we'd been broadcasting in Tijuana, but there was this enormous border market staring us right in the face," said James Gross, XEWT sales manager.

The new kid on the Spanish-language block is KBNT-TV (Channel 19), which went on the air Jan. 1. It is a "low-power" station, with an extremely limited signal range, but is affiliated with the popular Univision network.

"Up until (January), XEWT was the only station available to the San Diego Hispanic audience," said Philip Wilkinson, president and general manager of KBNT. "Now viewers have a choice."

In March, KBNT will begin broadcasting local news briefs on weekday evenings.

"We are promoting ourselves as the only San Diego Hispanic broadcaster," Wilkinson said.

KBNT is negotiating to have the Daniels and Dimension cable systems carry the station. It would make sense because both now take the Univision satellite feed.

In March, Southwestern will drop XEWT to pick up the Univision programming of KBNT, which includes World Cup soccer games. (XEWT can be picked up more easily than KBNT with a conventional antenna, a Southwestern spokesman said.) XEWT now shares a channel on Southwestern with KSCI, a multi-language channel. But, in March, KBNT will get its own channel on the Southwestern dial.

"We need to provide programming for Hispanics," said Southwestern spokesman Jeff Van Deerlin. "We thought it was a natural."

KFMB-TV (Channel 8) promotions producer Elyse Westing thought she was simply going to comment on the weather Wednesday night when a station photographer appeared in a restaurant while she was having dinner with her boyfriend, Doug Sensabaugh. She had been set up. With tape rolling, Sensabaugh took out a ring and proposed marriage. Stunned but undeterred, she accepted. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, the station ran the tape during the 11 p.m. news. . . .

It's more than a little entertaining to read San Diego Union Sports Editor Barry Lorge taking potshots at the sports department of the Union's sister paper, the Tribune. Referring to the "breathless nonsense that passes for journalism in a certain afternoon paper," Lorge blasted the Trib's coverage of attempts by Sports Arena operators Harry Cooper and Richard Esquinas to build a new arena and attract an NBA team. "With the shameless shilling of the San Diego Tribune, Cooper and Esquinas haven't had to pay any publicists," Lorge wrote. He's right, of course. But who expected to read about it in the Union. . . .

The fifth annual International Style Film Festival at the University of California, San Diego, begins Tuesday night with "A Taxing Woman's Return." Fifteen films are scheduled, screening once a week, including the Australian "Prisoner of St. Petersburg" and Finnish "Talvisolta," neither of which has an American distributor yet. Other scheduled films include "Bandits," from France; "Gonza the Spearman," from Japan; "South," from Argentina, and "The Dressmaker," from England.". . .

KFMB-FM (B100) has launched an extensive promotional campaign, but none of the ads mention the "morning zoo" team, fueling speculation that a change is in the works. . . .

Don't plan on seeing any more large furry animals on the Channel 8 news set for quite a while. During a Valentine's Day newscast, a bear from the Moscow Circus, which was supposed to be warm and cuddly, turned out to be large and curious, taking over the set for several minutes. . . .

In a step toward rounding out its morning show, KGB-FM (101.5) has hired Shelly Dunn from KSLX-FM in Phoenix to do news. She is scheduled to start Tuesday. Meanwhile, Jim McInnes continues to team with Cookie (Chainsaw) Randolph, with no replacement in sight, but the station has reportedly placed an ad in Radio and Record magazine seeking a new morning guy. . . .

Channel 10 is producing a one-hour special from reporter Mark Matthews' trip to Colombia. . . .

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