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Telemundo to Relocate Its Youth Channel to L.A.

The TV network's decision to move the bilingual mun2 from Miami is a recognition of Southland Latinos as national trendsetters.

June 20, 2005|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

The Spanish-language television network Telemundo is expected to announce today that it will move its bilingual youth-oriented cable channel, mun2, from Miami to Los Angeles.

The move signals a growing recognition that the Latino youth of Southern California are at the leading edge of the nation's cultural and demographic shift to a more assimilated population that seamlessly navigates both the English- and Spanish-speaking worlds.

It also suggests that Telemundo -- and its parent NBC Universal, owned by General Electric Co. -- plans to invest more money in the nascent channel to better compete with other media conglomerates, including Viacom Inc. and Los Angeles-based Univision Communications Inc.

Those companies see the tremendous potential of providing programming and marketing products to second- and third-generation Latino immigrants.

"The second generation is the most important driver of the Hispanic population growth," said Antoinette Zel, Telemundo's senior executive vice president of network strategy. "And the trendsetters today are out on the West Coast."

Only about 30 people will be affected by the move. But by relocating its programming, production, marketing and other creative functions to Los Angeles, Telemundo executives hope to establish mun2 as another outlet for Hollywood's creative community, including animators.

Another reason for the switch is to capitalize on the vast resources of NBC Universal, specifically the Universal Studios theme park and its CityWalk entertainment district.

"The traffic there is heavily young and Latino," Zel said of Universal Studios' visitors. One scenario under consideration is to house the channel's operations nearby, and perhaps even produce a live show from Universal Studios.

The move to Los Angeles, which should be completed by Oct. 1, is one step in an overall strategy to build mun2, which was launched in October 2001. The channel's name is a play on the Spanish word "mundos," which means "worlds." The cable channel is available in only about 10 million homes, or less than 10% of the households in the U.S. with TV sets.

Last month Telemundo unveiled to advertisers in New York some of its strategy to upgrade mun2. The new emphasis comes about six months after Telemundo hired Zel, who had launched Viacom's MTV operations in Latin America.

In an interview, Zel said the programming of mun2 had become too narrow, appealing primarily to young urban males on the East Coast. She plans to make the channel more relevant to a wider swath of bilingual youths, including those of Mexican descent. The goal is to better compete with other popular youth-oriented networks, such as the WB, UPN, MTV and Nickelodeon.

"We want to overhaul the programming and add to the mix," Zel said. "We want to make the environment more inclusive so that everyone can identify with it."

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