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América TeVé: Miami’s Independent Spanish Station Rivals TV’s Giants

NCM, Peter Micek Posted: Jun 25, 2005

Spanish television giants like Univision and Telemundo may have a large part of the market cornered, but at 8 p.m. each weeknight, one locally produced station out of Miami is rivaling them for the top spot.

This is when “A Mano Limpia,” or “With the Gloves Off” airs live on independent Spanish television station America TeVe (www.AmericaTeVe.com).
“We owe our success to local programming,” says Vice President of Sales Herb Espino.

More than 100,000 viewers watched “A Mano Limpia” nightly in January 2005, compared to 70,000 a year before that. Its ratings are close to national network Telemundo and a few Nielsen points shy of Univision. Appearing from eight to nine each weeknight, the news talk show follows a variety show and precedes a comedy hour. News is at five and 10.

Viewers, like the station’s staff, hail from a variety of Latin American countries. Few Mexicans live in South Florida, Espino says, the reason America TeVe has been so successful – the station targets audiences that the Mexican-centered major networks ignore.

Many of the viewers fled national crises, Espino says. As a result, “A Mano Limpia” focuses on the current U.S. and Latin American politics that impact its audience. One recent show centered on the move by Venezuela to buy military equipment and what this means for Colombia.

“You’re pretty much in a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation,” says National Sales Manager Anna Figueroa, who spent a decade in the radio advertising business. She points to a recent ad buy from a national fast-food chain as one of many “great accomplishments” in the station’s continual battle with large networks.

The programming never strays far from the community, Figueroa says, even in the comedy hours. “They’ll still find a way to get a segment, highlight a problem – it’s very much a part of the charisma of the station.”

A diverse set of on-air hosts and backstage producers from all over Latin America attracts Miami’s diverse audiences. The programming ranks high with Hispanic voters, Figueroa says, “which leads me to believe we do very well with the established Hispanics.” Some of the television personalities who have recently immigrated also bring viewers fresh from their home countries.

Figueroa says “A Mano Limpia” is her favorite show. “I think a lot of times it’s been very easy to program silliness for the Hispanic community,” she says, referring to programs with “a lot of yelling.”

In “A Mano Limpia” though, she says, “you actually get to hear the person’s whole argument. That makes it very interesting.”

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