Hispanic Nets Enjoy Sub Advances


English-language, Hispanic-targeted SiTV last week landed its first two carriage deals, while Time Warner Cable introduced a digital assortment to Latinos in its largest system.

SiTV, on the launch pad for four years, signed a contract with EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network that will place it on the direct-broadcast satellite provider's "America's Top 150" programming package when the network bows in early fall.

A spokesman for EchoStar, which counts about 8 million customers, declined to quantify the number of subscribers to that programming package.

Grande Communications, an overbuilder with cable systems in Texas, also will give SiTV analog space in San Antonio and digital clearance elsewhere.

SiTV co-chairman Jeff Valdez said he also has a deal with a major cable operator that will be announced soon. "Advanced talks" with two other MSOs are ongoing, he added.

A 24-hour channel that will feature a mix of original entertainment, information and reality fare, SiTV wants an early fall launch. New episodes of shows SiTV has produced, including Café Ole
and stand-up comedy showcase Funny Is Funny, will appear on the network.

Separately, after adding digital Spanish-language tiers in several markets elsewhere, Time Warner Cable introduced one in New York City and its environs last week.

"DTV en Español" consists of 19 Spanish-language channels, plus the Music Choice digital audio service, which has five Latino music formats, and more than 30 English-language services.

New Time Warner Cable subscribers can buy the tier for $49.95 per month, while current digital customers pay $9.95 extra per month.

Independent digital-service distributor OlympuSAT Inc. will supply Cine Latino, LTV and Canal Sur to the New York system.

Time Warner's clearance wraps up Hispanic tier distribution among cable systems in all key Latino markets, OlympuSAT president Tom Mohler said.

New York system senior vice president and general manager Barbara Kelly said Time Warner will expand its number of services in Spanish to 30 or more, including New York 1 News's upcoming Spanish-language spin-off, now aiming for a May or June launch.

Time Warner's New York system reaches about 1.1 million customers in New York, with Kelly's unit responsible for another 300,000 customers in Bergen and Hudson counties, N.J., and Mount Vernon, N.Y.

The tier is available to all except Bergen households, who will have access by month's end.