Telemundo Films Launching With Eva Longoria’s ‘Lowriders’

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By Dave McNary

NBCU Telemundo Enterprises is launching Telemundo Films to develop, produce, and market feature films in English and Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic market.

The unit, to be led by Telelmundo Network President Luis Silberwasser, will launch with the movie “Lowriders,” in partnership with Imagine Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions’ BH Tilt, and Universal Pictures. The film, which will debut on May 12, stars Eva Longoria, Demian Bichir, Melissa Benoist, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, and Gabriel Chavarria.

“Lowriders” opened the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The drama focuses on the dynamics of a fractured family in East Los Angeles and centers on the world of customizing classic cars.

“Telemundo Films will allow us to leverage our expertise to expand our entertainment business into a new genre of storytelling,” said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “We are excited to kick off this new venture in partnership with Imagine, Blumhouse, and Universal Pictures, and look forward to working with them to serve the vibrant movie-going Hispanic market.”

Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, “Lowriders” was produced by Brian Grazer and Jason Blum. The release will be handled by BH Tilt, Blumhouse’s releasing label that utilizes specialized distribution and marketing strategies for films that serve specific audiences.

Thursday’s announcement noted that Hispanic moviegoers generated an estimated $2.6 billion in 2015. It also said that while Hispanics represent 17% of the population, they accounted for 23% of tickets sold. The demographic shows its strongest preference for action and adventure, followed by comedy and suspense.

Additionally, viewership of Telemundo has been on the upswing in the past few years and so the brand has more value as a marketing vehicle now.

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Spanish-Language News Network Failed to Disclose Clinton Donation, Lobbying Expenditures

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A U.S. Spanish-language news network that lobbied Hillary Clinton’s State Department on U.S. policies toward Mexico reported on those policies without disclosing its lobbying expenditures and is covering the U.S. presidential election without informing viewers of its company’s donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The network, Azteca America, has employed two Clinton confidantes since late 2008 to lobby the State Department on various initiatives affecting U.S. relations with Mexico, where its parent company is based, during and after Clinton’s tenure at the head of the agency.

Mexican parent TV Azteca, a foundation associated with the company, and that foundation’s U.S. counterpart have together donated as much as $375,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website.

The lack of disclosure comes amidst controversy surrounding ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos, who recently came under fire for failing to disclose $75,000 in donations to the foundation, whose donors, recent reports have shown, also include dozens of other media organizations.

Azteca is a prominent broadcaster in Latino communities. It operates 16 stations around the country, including stations in nine of the country’s top ten Hispanic media markets, and has an additional 70 affiliate broadcasters.

Like competitors such as Univision and Telemundo, Azteca broadcasts stories of particular interest to Latinos. However, Azteca’s coverage occasionally bleeds into policy advocacy, according to the Fundacion Azteca America, its philanthropic arm.

“Azteca America donates screen time, its most valuable asset, to Fundación Azteca America in order to educate, fundraise and create awareness on important issues facing the Latino community in the United States,” the Fundacion’s website says.

Among those issues is immigration reform, a Democratic Party priority.

“If you live in a congressional district or a state with a Republican congressman urge them to overcome bipartisan bickering and do what’s right and support comprehensive immigration reform,” urges a Fundacion policy brochure.

While promoting policy change in its news content, the company is also lobbying U.S. lawmakers behind the scenes. Although many media companies work with the federal government on issues that affect their businesses, Azteca has pushed for a number of initiatives that have no direct bearing on its broadcasting work and has covered those initiatives without disclosing their lobbying work on those initiatives’ behalf.

Azteca hired the lobbying firm Ickes & Enright, itself a Clinton Foundation donor. Its principals, husband and wife Democratic powerbrokers Harold Ickes and Janice Enright, are long-time Clinton supporters, fundraisers, and aides.

Months before Azteca inked its contract, Ickes had helped run Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Two months after Clinton stepped down as secretary of state, he revealed that he was advising Ready for Hillary, a pro-Clinton super PAC. He sits on the board of Priorities USA, another super PAC backing Clinton’s presidential bid, and the Center for American Progress, a group expected to play a key role in crafting Clinton’s policy positions.

Ickes & Enright signed Azteca in August 2008. A year later, it signed its Mexican parent, TV Azteca. After Azteca began working with the Clinton Foundation in 2007, it enlisted Ickes & Enright to lobby Clinton’s State Department on smaller policy initiatives.

The firm, which did not respond to inquiries, reported lobbying the State Department on TV Azteca’s “business opportunities in the United States.” For its American arm, it worked on policy initiatives affecting U.S.-Mexico cooperation.

Ickes & Enright began lobbying the State Department in April 2011 on the Mexican American Leadership Initiative (MALI), a project devised in part by the State Department and run by the U.S.-Mexico Foundation.

The U.S.-Mexico Foundation’s board includes a number of Clinton supporters. Henry Cisneros, a HUD Secretary under Bill Clinton and a five-figure Clinton Foundation donor who was pardoned by the former president after admitting to illicit payments to his former mistress, is a board member. Jose Villareal, a Clinton fundraiser and adviser to Clinton Foundation donor Akin Gump, is another.

Ickes & Enright was listed as a MALI donor while it discussed the initiative with State on Azteca’s behalf. A month after it began listing the initiative on lobbying disclosure forms, Clinton spoke at a MALI reception at the State Department’s headquarters.

The reception kicked off a MALI conference cosponsored by Grupo Salinas, the parent company of TV Azteca and all of its affiliates north and south of the border.

The following year, Ickes & Enright, on Azteca America’s behalf, began discussing another initiative, the Summit of the Americas, with officials at State and the White House. A year later, it was lobbying on a State-led effort called 100,000 Strong in the Americas.

Azteca covered both initiatives, but did not disclose that it was paying U.S. lobbyists to work on them.

According to Fundacion Azteca America literature, “Azteca America’s screen is the foundation’s most powerful tool to promote a positive change in the society.”

The network’s advocacy for Fundacion policy objectives occasionally blurs the lines between its news operation and the policy goals of its philanthropic arm.

“This is the moment to make your voice heard,” declared a short February segment featuring Patricia Arbulu, host of the Azteca show Entre Nos. “Finally, we can see the construction of what may turn out to be comprehensive immigration reform,” Arbulu said, promoting the immigration policy advocacy of the Fundacion.

That kind of messaging can have a dramatic impact on the voting and policy preferences of the network’s viewers, according to Daniel Garza, executive director of the conservative LIBRE Initiative, a Latino outreach group.

“There is no question that Spanish-language television is a huge influence when it comes to policy priorities or setting the agenda of many in the Latino community,” Garza said in an interview.

Azteca is also active in electoral politics, working to register Latino voters and encouraging them to vote. It restricts its advocacy to nonpartisan activities, but its partners in those efforts suggest that its interests lean Democratic.

During the 2014 election cycle, Azteca partnered with such Hispanic voter engagement groups as Voto Latino and Mi Familia Vota. Those two groups have run online and ground campaigns, respectively, for the Latino Victory Project, a group founded by DNC finance director Henry Muñoz and Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria. The Latino Victory Project has been criticized for blurring the lines between nonpartisan activities and political advocacy.

“It’s like a PAC with a TV studio is the danger we have here to the extent that we have a network that’s going into advocacy journalism on economic and immigration policy,” said Ken Oliver-Mendez, director of the Media Research Center’s Latino journalism project.

Neither Azteca nor the Clinton Foundation responded to requests for comment.

Is there A Better Way to Measure the U.S. Hispanic Television Audience?

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Virtually every leading corporation in the U.S. today views the Hispanic population as a growth segment. Hispanics make up 55 million and are projected to almost triple in size by 2050. Their purchasing power of more than $1.2 trillion in 2013 is growing, and more and more counties, cities, and states are becoming “minority” majorities across the country.

The big question, however, is how can leading corporations improve targeting effectiveness and media efficiency given that the majority of today’s Hispanics are U.S. born, and that Spanish usage declines by generational level?

While it’s clear that Spanish-language has served the Hispanic marketing industry well, moving forward, new metrics will need to be added to better quantify a changing demographic landscape.

Historically, the Hispanic media approach and audience measurement has centered on Spanish-language, which has been the industry standard for more than 20-years—with language quintiles measuring the Hispanic television audience in aggregate.

What if there’s a better way?

Published in the September issue of the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, a new study challenges the “one-size fits all” Spanish-language television measurement model that has dominated U.S. Hispanic marketing for decades.

The study proposes using two well-known variables in cultural marketing — “Generational Level” (i.e., first, second, third generation) and “Years-in-Country” (i.e., number of years in the U.S.) to further dimensionalize the changing U.S. Hispanic television audience.

Generational level is a highly useful variable, which can measure differences across language usage, and other cultural variables under the banner of “culture.” “Years-in-country” can help marketers understand behavioral shifts that take place over time within one generational period (i.e., first generation).

Key Highlights of ‘JCMS’ Study

Univision and Telemundo ranked #1 and #2 in most watched television networks among first generation Hispanics. However, Univision ranked #5 in most watched television networks among second generation Hispanics. For third generation Hispanics, the top five most watched television networks were all in English.

Viewing of Spanish-language programming decreased over time for first-generation Hispanics, while their consumption of English-language programming increased during the same time period. This may be due to their increasing level of proficiency in English, and their desire to expand their TV programming choices (or a combination thereof).

These findings have significant programming implications. Generational level and years-in-country help media companies better target the changing Hispanic television audience, allowing them to allocate budgets with greater granularity.

Understanding the connection to language and other cultural dimensions will continue to be important in targeting the diverse U.S. Hispanic population. But the complexity of culture requires a more nuanced approach, and these two variables offer a straightforward path to increased understanding.

We would love to see syndicated media measurement companies include these variables, which have greater predictive power to help drive media strategy and investment decisions for leading corporations, who are the greatest beneficiaries of this new methodology.

The potential costs savings and budget re-allocation implications from this study are enormous—possibly in the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars per year. (Spanish-language media spend exceeded $7 billion in 2014.)

We are optimistic that this fresh approach will spur innovation and openness with media measurement companies, as we have seen—and improve Hispanic television audience measurement in the U.S. regardless of language. We believe this is the paradigm shift corporate America has been waiting for, and will embrace it given its impact on their bottom line.

Univision Launches “Sesame Amigos”

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Univision has partnered up with Sesame Workshop to launch “Sesame Amigos,” a Spanish-language version of Sesame Street.

The show, premiered during Univision’s Planeta U children’s block on Saturday, August 1 at 8:30AM, will be composed of 26 half hour segments that incorporate dance and play to teach children about being strong and developing morals, among other life lessons.

Sesame Amigos will feature familiar Sesame Street faces including Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, as well as a number of new friends. In each episode, the characters will be joined by various Latino celebrities, including Diego Luna, Carlos Calderón, Tony Dandrades and Pablo Ramírez.

“Sesame Amigos is a new and innovative show designed specifically for Spanish-speaking families in the U.S.,” says Alberto Ciurana, president of Univision’s programming and content. “While versions of Sesame Street air in more than 150 countries, Sesame Amigos will provide Spanish-speaking preschoolers the tools they need to succeed in the U.S.”

Steve Youngwood, COO of Sesame Workshop points out that Sesame Amigos will further the company’s vision of boosting children’s’ educational skills.

“Since our founding, Sesame Street has revolutionized early learning by using media to make educational opportunities accessible to all preschoolers,” says Youngwood. “Sesame Amigos will further our mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder by reaching new Hispanic audiences with our funny, furry content and characters in ways that reflect their language and culture.”

 

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