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KGW will produce Spanish newscast

Northwest market called ripe for programs aimed at Hispanics

KGW (8) will produce the region's first Spanish-language local newscast for nine Univision NW network affiliates.

KGW's parent company, Dallas-based Belo Corp., signed a sales, marketing and promotional agreement last week with the ultrapopular Spanish network.

The newscast, which will be produced at KGW's Southwest Jefferson Street studios, could start as early as December.

Univision, which broadcasts locally on KPOU-TV channels 38 and 11, will be available to viewers without cable starting April 1. The two stations already air the locally produced Spanish news/talk show 'Cita Con Nelly,' which stars Portland business owner Nelly Rodriguez.

KPOU's general sales manager, Michael Hanna, is Univision's local point man for the project. He said KGW soon will be recruiting Spanish-speaking reporters and anchors to put together the early evening newscast. He estimated that they would hire 10 news people.

'We have a lot of work ahead of us,' he said. KGW 'will profit from this. We see the Northwest as very ripe for this programming, and we will do everything to expand our brand to Spanish communities across the Northwest.'

The KGW/Univision NW deal is part of a growing trend of TV stations producing independent newscasts to generate new revenue. It's also a move to tap into the increasingly lucrative Hispanic consumer market.

Humberto Reyna, past president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and owner of Reyna Moore Advertising in Northeast Portland, said it's about time.

'It's a huge plus not only for businesses who want to reach that market but also the community itself,' he said. 'I always thought we were being ignored. Economically, people are not doing a good job if they ignore this community. It seems most corporations are becoming aware of the buying potential of our community.'

An estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of viewers in the Portland TV market are Hispanic; about 20 percent live in Marion County. More than 50,000 Hispanics now live in Multnomah County, up from 18,390 in 1990.

Portland consultant Roy Larson put the potential Hispanic consumer market at $1.08 billion, calling it the 'fastest-growing new consumer group in the Northwest and the most undeveloped.'

Of the total, about $626 million is spent in the retail market, $163 million on groceries, $79 million at restaurants and $73 million at auto dealers.

'It's growing at an above average rate,' agreed Paul Fry, KGW-TV's general manager. 'We're not certain of the potential. We're still new at this.'

Fry said the station would hire two salespeople to handle the Univision affiliate sales.

Officials would not provide an estimate of either the cost to produce the newscast or the value of the KGW contract with Univision.

Univision produces a majority of the highest-rated Hispanic TV shows in the United States.

Despite Fox-49's failed attempt at a drive-time newscast last summer, Univision is not concerned about launching another news show in the metro Portland market, Hanna said.

The newscast also is expected to air in LaGrande, Bend and Salem, as well as Yakima and the Tri-Cities in Washington.

'We're talking about a market very hungry for this information, and it will be supported by advertisers,' Hanna said. 'There are things we can do in a newscast that will be more culturally centered, more colorful, lively and visually appealing.'

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