Rival Spanish-Language Networks
Battle for Hispanic Viewers in the U.S.
By Henry Rafael
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Univision anchor, Jorge
Ramos, works on his laptop before Univision's afternoon broadcast
Media Nation Photo by Sarah M. J. Welch
They are mano a mano competitiors, using the Democratic and Republican conventions
to show off their best stuff. Univision and Telemundo, the largest and most popular
Spanish-language TV networks in Latin America and the United States, are focusing
more on their American audience this week. They are convinced that Latino voters
could play a decisive role in the coming U.S. election.
Dominant Univision and the smaller Telemundo have come to Boston with their best
journalists, producers and technicians. According to a recent survey by the Pew
Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation, 72% of American Latinos are paying some
attention to the presidential race. Latino-Americans include the nations
fastest-growing immigrant group, and their votes will be critical in such swing
states as Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.
Univisions Jorge Ramos, anchor of Noticiero Univision, is one
of the most famous journalists among Latino viewers. He is leading a team of 35
people, coming from Miami to cover the convention. Telemundos Pedro Sevsec,
also an important star, is part of a 12-person team here.
In my 18 years working for Univision, I have never seen such an important
role for the Latinos in one election. We are in the position of defining who can
be the next President of the U.S., said Ramos, who was born in Mexico and
who started his peregrination to America in 1983 with a student visa. He since
has won seven Emmys.
Both Univision and Telemundo are focused on covering Latinos at the convention,
who make up 11.3 percent of the 4,353 delegates, compared with 9 percent in 2000,
according to DNC officials.
Univision is deploying a team that is costing them, in Ramos words, four
times more than the last election. Hot stories for both include coverage of Hispanic-American
leaders Bill Richardson and Robert Menendez and such issues as Cuban relations,
Latinos, health care, education, the economy, the war on Iraq and international
Univision is dominant among Americans 40 million Hispanics, but Telemundo
has a new and powerful corporate parent. Telemundo is debuting here for the first
time as a subsidiary of NBC, using the giant networks technology and support.
We are in the skybox next to Tom Brokaw, says Joe Peyronnin, the executive
vice president of Telemundo Network News, who is well known within the television
business for his 25 years at CBS. Peyronnin doesnt speak "un poquito
espanol," but it may not matter. I dont know Spanish, but I know
about business," he says.
Univision has its own ally, which will help it fend off the competition from Telemundo:
a news-sharing agreement with CNN En Espanol, the only Spanish language news network
that is on 24/7.
Meanwhile, five Spanish-language newspapers are also busy covering the convention
in Boston. El Diario La Prensa from New York and La Opinion from Los Angeles have
a new partnership in Impremedia, which they hope will give them a competitive
edge over the others.