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Cox Rolls Out Digital Hispanic Tier

Cox Communications Inc. has launched a digital tier of Spanish-language services in Phoenix that it expects to roll out in other select markets across the country, including Texas and Florida.

Last month, Cox debuted its new digital-cable package, "TeleLatina," in Phoenix, which has a growing Hispanic population. The current number of Hispanics in the metropolitan Phoenix area is 783,000, and the DMA recently moved up the rankings to become the 10th-largest Hispanic TV market in the country.

"It's an important market for us," a Cox spokeswoman in Phoenix said.

The Cox TeleLatina tier includes CNN en Español, MTVS, Discovery en Español, VH Uno, Gems Television, Fox Sports World Español, Toon Disney en Español, Cartoon Network en Español and a local independent station, KFE.

A number of cable operators and both direct-broadcast satellite providers, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., now have tiers targeting the Hispanic market, with mixed success in some cases. Both MediaOne Group Inc. and Time Warner Cable have Hispanic tiers in varied markets. And Liberty Media Group has launched a Spanish-language digital tier called "Canalesñ."

Cox's TeleLatina tier is most aggressively being marketed in Phoenix to Hispanics who don't have cable.

The package, at $25 per month, includes roughly 90 channels in total; limited basic cable; the networks on the TeleLatina tier; five Discovery Communications Inc. digital networks; a digital converter and remote control; an interactive program guide; and 45 Music Choice channels, including nine Latino-oriented options such as "Tropical" and "Tejano."

Cox is also looking to roll out TeleLatina digital tiers later this year or next year in DMAs such as Tucson, Ariz.; Gainesville-Ocala, Fla.; Omaha, Neb.; Las Vegas; Orange County, Calif.; Oklahoma City; northern Virginia; west Texas; and Baton Rouge, La., sources said. But a spokeswoman for the MSO in Atlanta declined to comment on future launch plans for TeleLatina.

In Phoenix, where Cox has roughly 615,000 subscribers, the system geared up an aggressive marketing effort-including hiring some bilingual staffers-behind TeleLatina, which was added to the system's offerings July 1.

The Phoenix system conducted a "media road show" for Tele-Latina, according to the Phoenix Cox spokeswoman, by setting up meetings with journalists from both English- and Spanish-language newspapers to talk about the digital tier.

As part of the promotional effort, Cox also did some outreach to Latino nonprofit groups and hosted suites at several local events, including recent Ricky Martin and Vicente Fernandez concerts.

In addition, Cox promoted TeleLatino through print ads, direct mail and radio. As part of the effort, the system is even adding a Spanish-language area to its Web site.

The Phoenix cable system claimed that it's happy with the results it's gotten so far with TeleLatina. "The acceptance rate is exceeding our expectations," the Cox spokeswoman said, declining to offer any specific numbers.

In the not-so-distant future, Cox also plans to add some Spanish-language services to analog in Phoenix, including Galavisión, the system spokeswoman said.

The Phoenix system also just added Oxygen, Toon Disney and SoapNet to digital, on its "Variety" tier.