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Oceanic is asked to carry Spanish-language network

By Erika Engle

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:44 a.m. HST, Mar 11, 2011



The nation's fifth-largest television network wants to get into Hawaii households via digital basic cable service and is enlisting the help of the local Hispanic population to try to make it happen.

New York-based Univision Communications Inc. has a small Hawaii footprint through affiliate KHLU-LP Channel 46, a low-power, analog, over-the-air TV station.

Univision availability in Hawaii

Spanish-language network Univision is carried on analog, over-the-air-only KHLU-LP, a low-power TV station requiring rabbit ears or other antenna and an analog TV for reception. Two satellite TV services also offer its programming:

DISH Network

DishMEXICO, $19.99 per month

America's Top 200, $39.99 per month

DirecTV

Spanish package, $29.99 per month
Oceanic Time Warner Cable does not carry Univision, but offers a package of other Spanish-language channels at $7 per month for digital cable subscribers.
Sources: KHLU-LP, DISH Network, DirecTV, Oceanic Time Warner Cable
To watch "Sabado Gigante," "Eva Luna," "Nuestra Belleza Latina" or other shows on the UHF station, viewers must have an older TV able to receive the analog signal, or subscribe to DISH Network or DirecTV. The satellite services retransmit a mainland Univision signal, said Corey "C.T." Ryder, president and general manager of KHLU, which does business as Univision Hawaii.

Univision corporate officials came to Hawaii in January to meet with Oceanic Time Warner Cable and support its local affiliate in the quest to have Hawaii Hispanics contact the cable company by phone or e-mail before next Friday to say, "Yo quiero Univision, por favor" ("I want Univision, please").

"We're trying to get thousands so Oceanic will wake up and give our station a break. They're going to make tons of money off of it if they do," Ryder said.

New census figures show the rapid growth of Hawaii's Hispanic population to nearly 121,000 from 100,000 in 2000 and about 83,000 in 1990. The numbers don't include military members or their families, nor Spanish-speaking college students. "We see a target audience of 160,000 to 180,000 people for a digital basic cable channel for our Honolulu TV station," Ryder said.

The network and its low-power Hawaii affiliate want placement parity with local ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS stations.

Unlike the leading network affiliates in Honolulu, KHLU has no studio in Honolulu. A studio presence is required of any primary broadcast station. The Federal Communications Commission has fined KHLU $5,600 for failing to maintain a main studio in Honolulu.

"Everybody wants to be on standard (cable); it has the largest audience," said Alan Pollock, Oceanic's vice president of marketing. Oceanic pays content providers a per-subscriber fee, so basic cable channels with their larger audience are far costlier.

"We would love to put them in the Spanish tier," Pollock said, speaking of the package of Spanish-language channels that includes Galavision, Telemundo, CNN Espanol and ESPN Deportes (sports).

Oceanic's Spanish tier has about 1,000 subscribers, Pollock said. "We have a very, very small Spanish-speaking population," and allocating a primary section of limited bandwidth for a small segment of the population doesn't pencil out for Oceanic, he said.

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at erika@staradvertiser.com.






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