Ex-Venezuelan TV Execs Launch U.S. Network

A group of executives from the defunct Venezuelan broadcast
network RCTV have teamed with a prominent banker from their homeland to launch
U.S. channel SOI TV.

The Miami-based Spanish-language channel will offer a mix of
entertainment and social-media content targeted to Hispanics in the U.S. and

SOI (which stands for Sistema de Opinión Interactiva, or
Interactive Opinion System) has signed a five-year contract to launch as a
multicast service with Telemundo stations in 15 Hispanic markets, including
Miami, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

Telemundo is not involved in the network except for leasing
out the .3 digital subchannel of its owned-and-operated stations in those
markets. The signal is currently in test mode.

Although SOI TV is currently available only on multicast,
the idea is to eventually launch on cable systems throughout the U.S. and Latin
America, chief marketing officer Pablo Mendoza told Hispanic TV Update. SOI TV
is already in talks with MSOs in Puerto Rico and Mexico and is close to
announcing the purchase of Nuevo Mundo, a Spanish-language cable network in

According to Mendoza, SOI TV will focus on the "opitainment"
genre, a concept that aims to mix entertainment programming with the audience's
opinions and their interactions with social-media platforms. The network
already has a presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Skype, where it
invites users to sign up and share their opinion on topics that go from U.S.
politics to Latin American economy.

But the channel also features entertainment, with shows
hailing from Latin America's Caracol TV and RCN, including Muñoz Vale X 2, Historias de
Hombres Sólo para muje
res, Séptima
and Terapia de parejas, as
well as such telenovelas as La
teacher de inglés
, La Bruja and Primera Dama.

The project's main investor is Eligio Cedeno, a Venezuelan
businessman who spent time in jail for what his lawyers called a "campaign by [Venezuelan
president] Hugo Chávez to discredit him." (RCTV was shut down by the Venezuelan
government in 2007 for its alleged role in a 2002 coup against Chavez.)

Cedeño, who moved to Miami in 2009, is now being described
as a "determined and optimistic entrepreneur who strongly belives in the
Hispanic community."

As of Nov. 1, SOI TV is available in Los Angeles; New York;
Houston; Dallas; Chicago; Phoenix, Ariz.; San Antonio; Texas; San Francisco;
Fresno, Calif.;  Denver; Las Vegas;
Boston; Tucson, Ariz.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.