Spanish programs air on new stations
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
Valley Hispanics to have more options

Yvonne Wingett

Two new Spanish-language television stations have entered the Phoenix market, hoping to tap into the region's fast-growing Latino population and its thirst for public-affairs and religious programming.

The stations join what is becoming a growing list of Spanish-language channels already in the Valley, and industry experts predict Phoenix's strong Hispanic market will lure more.

"It's almost predictable based upon not just the tremendous growth in the size of the Hispanic audience, but also the interest in that audience that departs from the English-language market," said Craig Allen, an Arizona State University journalism professor and television news expert. "You can expect that to increase dramatically in the years ahead as more niches are developed and the Hispanic market grows."

Phoenix is the nation's ninth-largest Hispanic market and l5th-largest overall. Most cable systems provide at least a half a dozen Spanish language channels, including unchallenged ratings leader Univision.

Starting Wednesday, residents can tune in via DISH Network to Channel 6 (KMOH), which airs family shows such as classic Mexican movies, cooking shows and cartoons. The station, owned and operated by Miami-based Bela Broadcasting LLC, recently debuted a local production of El 6 Para Tí. The nightly one-hour community-affairs program debuted Jan. 24 and features the Valley's Latin nightlife, politics and current affairs.

Without DISH Network, Greater Phoenix will not be able to view the station.

And a new religious station today is expected to begin broadcasting church services and community programming. Almavision Hispanic Network, Channel 43 (KTVP), will air mostly evangelical Christian programs and could partner with municipalities to show how-to programs, a local official said.

The stations offer more options for thousands of Latinos who crave entertainment in their native language and want alternatives to the wildly popular game shows and racy telenovelas, or soaps.

The programs will play well for Luis Enrique Ramírez Thomas and his Glendale family.

"For me and for my children, the more choices that I have that include family programming, the better for me," said Ramírez Thomas, an international business adviser. "I have made a commitment that I speak exclusively Spanish to my children at home. They live in an English environment. I'm trying to provide them with a bilingual, bicultural experience."

The cross-cultural demand for Spanish-language television shows has again hurled Univision's Channel 33 (KTVW) to the top of the ratings in the Valley, according to the latest Nielsen ratings released in December. For five of six consecutive rating periods, Univision was rated most popular with the coveted demographic among advertisers, 18- to 49-year-olds.

Based on Univision's popularity and the state's demographics, broadcast experts believe the Valley will soon become a powerful magnet for niche programming.

KMOH hopes to capitalize on that trend.

Hosted by Maria Lourdes Gonzalez, a young Latina, El 6 Para Tí airs from 10 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. The show is geared toward families, teens and young adults. In a roundtable-type format, guests from around the state spend one hour talking about entertainment, politics, education, art and culture.

"It's a lighter version of Horizonte (and) because of the demographic, a lighter topic," said Conchita Raíces-Kollmann, of the newly formed agency Raíces Unidas Hispanic Advertising and producer and content provider for the show. Horizonte is an English-language public affairs show that focuses on Hispanic-themed news and airs on Channel 8 (KAET).

An untapped thirst for religious shows brought Almavision here, said Joe Nuñez, local president for Alma Vision Hispanic Television Network. Programming will air 24 hours a day; local programming will air from 4 to 11 p.m.

"It will give (viewers) an opportunity to help them understand the family structure according to the Bible," said Emerito Gonzalez, pastor at Iglesia Laroca in Mesa. "These novelas show people how easy it is to cheat on your spouse. To me, it doesn't structure the family, it perverts the family."

That's partly why northwest Phoenix's Diana Radar isn't a fan of Univision and its "very topless-bar-oriented comedic programming."

The addition of two alternative stations will benefit Hispanics here, she said, because parents can use them as tools to teach children Spanish, religion and Hispanic issues.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-4712.