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Members of Government and Hispanic Media Owners Discuss Challenges, Opportunities

Friday, September 26, 2008   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Yisel Cabrera
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Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute


For Immediate Release

September 24, 2008

Contact: Vanessa Bilanceri, 202-244-0121,


Attention Given Today to Hispanic Media Owners as Members of Government and Media Owners Discuss Challenges, Opportunities

Access to Capital, Media Consolidation, Availability of Spectrum and Digital Transition Noted as Key Challenges for Hispanic-Owned Media Outlets

WASHINGTON, DC – Today lawmakers from the United States Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and Media Executives, among others, participated in a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for Hispanic-owned media outlets. The event, held on Capitol Hill, was hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing and diversifying the dialogue with and about the growing US Hispanic population.

"As the Hispanic market grows, so does the need for more bi-lingual and culturally adept programming for this diverse audience,” said U.S. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute. "Media outlets face many challenges serving the U.S Latino community. Today was a great opportunity for lawmakers and media executives to discuss these challenges, as well as the opportunities for growth, and to open a dialogue on this important issue.”

Given that Hispanics are the nation's second largest demographic group, numbering 45.5 million and growing, media outlets continue to diversify programming in order to focus on this group. Spanish language television has seen double-digit growth in advertising, demonstrating a niche market for media outlets as well as advertisers. According to the U.S. Census, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and used daily by over 35 million or 12.3% of the U.S. population today. This presents enormous opportunities for media outlets, as well as challenges.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also sees the value in diversifying the language and cultural aspects of programming. Kevin J. Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, addressed the crowd of 50 by expressing his personal desire to allow for multiple broadcast streams. He addressed challenges related to Hispanic media ownership such as access to capital to launch a publication or broadcast station and availability of spectrum to newcomers.

Chairman Martin also acknowledged the difficulty in making all Spanish-dominant communities in the U.S. aware of the government-mandated switch from analog to digital in February 2009. According to the Chairman, this transition will disproportionately affect Spanish-language viewers, since these carriers are mostly analog and provide local programming not on digital cable. Half of all homes in the U.S. that are Spanish speaking will be affected by the digital change. Legislation has been introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas to delay the digital transition requirement for border-towns.

Tara Ballesteros, Communications Director for ZGC Communications, said that the company has grown exponentially over the years, but it be would tough now, given all the current challenges with government rules and requirements and finances needed, to successfully enter the market.

Even in the print market, entrepreneurs have faced challenges. Johnny A. Yataco, President, Washington Hispanic, a weekly newspaper in the Washington metro area launched in 1994, says that upgrading technology has been an additional expense, as has the increase in the price of the actual paper. When you reach a more specific group, as opposed to mainstream publications, even small price increases affect the budget.

Other event speakers included Mayela Rosales, Executive Vice President, Azteca America, D'Latinos, and Monica Desai, Chief of Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission.

Today's discussion was only the beginning. This dialogue will continue as more media outlets reach out to this growing bi-lingual audience and as the broadcast industry approaches the February 17, 2009 transition deadline.


The event today was sponsored by Atria Client Services on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Speakers' remarks will be posted in the coming days to CHLI's web site.

For more information on this topic or other future events hosted by CHLI, please contact Vanessa Bilanceri at 202-244-0121.

The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to creating a broader awareness of the diversity of thought, heritage, interests and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent. For more information, please visit


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