News

NY 1 News Eyes 2003 Spinoff For Spanish Speaking Viewers

10/13/2002 8:00 PM Eastern

Precise format plans are still fermenting, but New York 1 News will launch a 24-hour, Spanish-language spinoff of the news service in the Big Apple next year.

NY1 senior vice president and general manager Steve Paulus said he has received budget approval for the yet-to-be-named service, which will likely bow at the end of the first quarter or late in the second quarter of 2003.

The network, which will be part of Time Warner Cable's local-news operation here, will be available on the New York City system's digital tier, according to Paulus.

Home to large numbers of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and other groups, New York in terms of Hispanic households is the second-largest DMA in the country, behind Los Angeles. According to Nielsen Hispanic Cable estimates, New York has 854,750 Latino cable-TV households.

"The Hispanic population is growing rapidly and is underserved from a news perspective," he said. "We think this service will be beneficial to the community."

The service will play well with area sponsors, Paulus added. "Talking to clients, our sales department says there is good buzz. I think we're going to be pretty successful with advertisers."

Such clients as Verizon Communications Inc. and local car dealerships are interested in reaching both Anglo and Hispanic viewers, he said.

Time Warner's New York system currently proffers the local Univision, Telemundo and Telefutura broadcast affiliates, as well as LTV, Galavisión, mun2, Fox Sports World Español, Supercanal, HBO Latino and five Hispanic-targeted Music Choice channels.

Although he wouldn't discuss budgets or specific personnel matters — the service will add a number of dedicated staffers — Paulus said the service could reach black ink quickly: "Hopefully, we can be in a break-even position within a year or so."

It would look to keep production costs down — NY1's reporters wield their own cameras and function as editors — and there would likely be some repurposing from the English-language service, he said.

Paulus and his team, though, have choices to make in terms of news direction. It will likely spin a wheel format, akin to the one featured on NY 1.

"Clearly, there are many stories within the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican communities here. But there also large numbers of people who trace their roots to Colombia, El Salvador and Paraguay," he said. "In terms of New York City government and services, there are press conferences held in English and Spanish. We've not stuck around for the latter; we will now."

Decisions will need to be made about how to cover national or international stories, Paulus added. "Like with the storm hitting the Yucatan, what do we do in terms of how that affects the Mexican community in our area?" he asked.

NY 1's Hispanic service will take some of its cues from Tampa, Fla., according to Paulus. In March, TWC's Bay News 9 there spun off Bay News 9 en Español, the only local, 24-hour Spanish language news service in the country, according to TWC corporate vice president of news Elliot Wiser.

(Mas! Arizona, a 24-hour service owned by Cox Communications Inc. and Belo in Phoenix, also televises sports programming.)

Tampa Model

Bay News 9 en Español really fills a void in Tampa because the Univision affiliate there only proffers a 6 p.m. weeknight newscast, Wiser said.

"There had been no local, seven-day-a-week service in the market. Ours has proven to be a very attractive services for viewers and advertisers," he said.

Bay News 9 and its sister network will become part of Advance/Newhouse when the MSO takes control of that system and some other TWC properties.

In Tampa-St. Petersburg — which, as the No. 19 U.S. Hispanic market has a very fast-growing Cuban constituency — the network has a separate cast of anchors, but repurposes some video from its sister news operation, Wiser said.

The service, available as channel 139 on TWC's digital package, draws its weather component from WSI, a partner in Bay News 9 en Español.

WSI, the weather data and presentation systems unit of Landmark Communications Inc. — which also owns The Weather Channel — is also a partner with 24-hour digital weather services in eight other markets where Time Warner Cable runs news operations.

TWC's Austin, Texas system expects to bow a 24-hour Spanish-language weather service before year's end, according to Brian Benschacter, general manager, News 8 in Austin.

The plan calls for NY 1's Spanish-language spin-off to deploy WSI's services, said company director of affiliate relations Mark Taylor.

March