Startup Net To Bring Cuban TV Stateside


If Michel Martin has his way, U.S. Hispanics will soon be
enjoying the best of Cuban television on their TV screens.
The French-born executive is the force behind Cuba Play
Television, a compilation of the best original programming from the communist nation,
never seen before in the U.S. and free of any political affiliation or
ideological influence.
Cuba Play Television is being offered by West Palm Beach,
Fla.-based satellite distributor Olympusat and will feature up to 12 hours of
new, original programming a day, says Martin. The HD channel's 5,000
programming hours hail from six state-owned television channels in Cuba; deals
for the content have been in the works for some time.
"We are reintroducing Cuban programming after 50 or so years
... since the U.S. imposed a commercial embargo on the island," Martin told Hispanic TV Update.
Martin has had his share of experience doing business in
Cuba. He has founded and edited a magazine in the island and in the 1990s began
distributing Cuban cinema in France and Spain. Taking advanage of his Cuban
acquaintances - and contacts - the French native eventually succeeded in buying
exclusive U.S. cable, DVD and Internet retransmission rights to fare from Cuba's
state-run TV channels.
The content for the new channel is being carefully edited and
selected by a group of Cuba Play TV editors, who will "clean" its political
messages, Martin said.
"Cuba itself knows about the conflicts that could arise
[from this] and they, themselves will not give us political content," he said.
CubaPlay Televisión will bring live, simultaneous
programming to the U.S., including same-day film premieres, sports coverage and
children's and music shows.
Although the main target of Cuba Play TV is the Cuban
population in the U.S. - estimated at 1.5 million, according to the Pew
Hispanic Center - the idea is to extend the offering to other U.S. Hispanics,
not only those of Caribbean heritage, but from the entire hemisphere.
"We have shows such as [comedian] Robertico, whose quality
is just great, and appeal to the whole continent," Martin said.
 "By introducing
CubaPlay Television, we are expanding our unique programming for Hispanic
viewers in the U.S. and reinforcing the diversity of the American Latino
audience, both culturally and geographically," Olympusat president said Tom
Mohler said in a statement.