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Election raising stakes for Spanish-language TV

With Latino voters playing an important role in this year's presidential election, Univision and Telemundo have scored more face time with the candidates, and more political ad dollars are pouring in.

July 28, 2012|By Meg James | Los Angeles Times

Next month, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is launching a new Spanish-language TV network in the U.S., a joint venture with Colombian media company RCN called MundoFox. The company already operates a bilingual website, Fox News Latino. And next year, Univision plans to team up with Walt Disney Co.'s ABC to create a new 24-hour English-language cable news channel targeting bilingual Latinos.

"Our role is to serve as a bridge to our community to make sure that they maximize their voice and their impact here in the U.S," Univision's Conde said.

Alina Falcon, Telemundo executive vice president of news and alternative programming, agreed.

"Our viewers look to us to help them understand the complexities and intricacies of the U.S. political system," Falcon said. "Community empowerment and civic engagement has been a priority for us for a long time."

A recent poll conducted by Telemundo/NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that 67% of Latino registered voters favor Obama while 23% support Romney. However, another finding could be troubling for Obama. The poll uncovered less enthusiasm among Latinos than among all Americans.

"While Obama has a wide lead among Hispanic registered voters, we found there is an intensity gap," Falcon said. "Our polls show there is not as much interest in the election among Hispanics as there is for non-Hispanics. And that presents a challenge for the Obama administration in turning out the vote."

And that could translate into more TV appearances by the candidates and more campaign dollars flowing to Spanish-language media.

meg.james@latimes.com

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