Hispanic Television Summit: Leadership Award Validates TWC’s Work With Latinos

New York -- At the 11th annual Hispanic Television Summit here on Oct. 2, Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable honored Time Warner Cable with the Leadership in Hispanic Television Award.  Melinda Witmer, the MSO's executive vice president and chief video and content officer, accepted the award on behalf of Time Warner Cable and its employees. `

The following is a copy of Witmer's speech, which followed a video tribute to the work the MSO conducts with the Hispanic community.

I hope you liked the video…don’t we have a great team? They inspire me every day.

In fact, I’m so inspired that I think I’ll try this in Spanish (rips up piece of paper at podium).

I think I just heard some gasps from my Time Warner Cable colleagues here. It can’t be that bad, can it? Here goes…

Thank you, Louis. Gracias Louis [Hillelson, NewBay Media, vice president/group publisher] 

Es un placer aceptar este premio para Time Warner Cable.

OK – chill out, it was just a cover sheet. Maybe I better stick to English, for everyone’s sake. It’s my privilege to represent Time Warner Cable and to accept this award on behalf of everyone in the company.

Over the years, Time Warner Cable has received numerous awards recognizing our people and the work we do. We make lists for being a great place to work, for having strong and committed leaders who are shaping the industry, for our diversity, our programming and our marketing, and for innovating in our space—which we are reminded of when we pass our technical Emmy statues in the reception area of our corporate headquarters.

But I have hardly been as excited about an award TWC has received as I was when we found out that the editors of Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News wanted to recognize us with

the 2013 Award for Leadership in Hispanic Television


I’m proud because of what it stands for. Proud because it came to us unsolicited. And particularly proud because it’s not just about us…it’s about something more than Time Warner Cable.

It’s validation of the work we do every day to connect our customers with the entertainment they love and recognizes the value of the close connection we have to our customers.

We live where they live, we work where they work – we are an integral part of the communities we serve. To compete, we have to give them the best content choices, good value for our services, and great customer service but to win we have to serve them the way we – as consumers – want to be served. And to do that well, it has to come with passion from the heart, the home – and a commitment to the community.

Today, there are 52 million Latinos in the U.S., which is fast approaching 20% of the nation’s population.

And two-thirds of the total Latino population live in five states—California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois. Today, in three of those states where Time Warner Cable has a large base of customers, we produce original Spanish-language programming for our consumers.

It all started 10 years ago with the launch of NY1 Noticias, New York City's first—and only—24-hour local news channel exclusively in Spanish.

When we signed on the air June 30, 2003, there were some who said a 24-hour, Spanish language channel serving New York City’s Hispanic and Latino community would not survive. Critics said it was too good to be true and that it would only last a few months. But, we at TWC were committed to our customers and to serving them with staying power and have proven that.

I’m happy to say they were wrong. Not only did the channel survive, but it has thrived in the city’s competitive news market. NY1 Noticias has been and remains an example of Time Warner Cable’s unparalleled commitment to provide news, weather and sports to one of the fastest growing communities in the tri-state area.

I would just like to share a few of the stories that have particularly resonated with our Noticias audience over the years…

Less than a month after Noticias launched, the community was shocked by the passing of entertainer and singer Celia Cruz at her home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She was widely known as the best and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music. It was a big story and Noticias was there to cover the news as New Yorkers mourned her death.In December 2007, tropical storm Noel hit the Dominican Republic. The Dominican population here in New York worried about friends and loved ones back home, and we worried right along with them. Through Noticias we stayed with the coverage and brought them the critical information they needed to feel on the ground in the Dominican Republic with their loved ones and to stay informed.More recently, just a year ago this month, Superstorm Sandy hit the city very hard, including neighborhoods with a large Hispanic community on Staten Island. Noticias stayed uniquely focused on the impact of the storm on those residents, as well as how the community and others came together to help rebuild the island.

Launching Noticiaswas a big commitment for Time Warner Cable. But it was right for our customers—and we think we got it right.

This past April, Noticias brought home their first Emmy award. I know it will not be their last.Moving from news to sports…Just yesterday, we marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of Time Warner Cable Deportes, the first and only 24/7 Spanish-language regional sports network in the country and the first to bring comprehensive Los Angeles Lakers and LA Galaxy coverage to the Hispanic community in Southern California.Deportes was a logical next step in our evolution. The intent went beyond coverage of the Lakers and Galaxy…it was meant to further Time Warner Cable’s commitment to community.From the outset of our discussions with the Lakers, it was clear how important it was to deliver for the Hispanic fan in a way they had never been previously served. The Los Angeles Lakers have a huge Hispanic fan base and we were dismayed to realize that our Hispanic consumers who are Lakers fans were often muting the television coverage of the games and listening to the Spanish radio broadcast. We – and the Lakers – wanted to change that experience and give our Spanish-speaking customers – and their fans – an experience worthy of their loyal following.But it didn’t just happen because it should – it took unprecedented commitment and a willingness to take risk. But it grew from knowing our customers and wanting to do right by them. When we finished the deal, the team surprised us with a visit by their starting five – and I will never forget their enthusiasm for Deportes and for breaking new ground. When Kobe Bryant told me that he answers his fans in Spanish as often as he does in English – I knew we were on the right track.So we built the studios. We got the on-air talent. We staffed up. We developed the content. And we went live on October 1, 2012 at 7 p.m. with a two-hour Bienvenidos a Time Warner Cable Deportes live special, featuring David Beckham, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash as in-studio guests, plus Laker Pau Gasol and Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan.The team at Deportes knows how important it is to be part of and serve the community. A great example of that is found in our signature series, #LAPREPA, which celebrates the positive impact of sports in the lives of local Latino youth.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Deportes won an award for “best live call.” In one of the best games of an otherwise forgettable season was the Lakers overtime win over the Toronto Raptors. En este tremedo juego.Kobe Bryant, el macho, hit a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime—and it was the call of that three-pointer, triple doses, from Kobe, La Mamba Negra, that received top recognition from the NBA, of all networks—English or Spanish!  

Beyond our networks, we are serving our Hispanic audience in many other ways, including our El Paquetazo programming tier, which offers 150 Spanish-language channels; international calling to countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic for a penny a minute; and award-winning marketing in Spanish. Today, our TWC Mi Cultura Facebook page has nearly a quarter-million followers.To my Time Warner Cable networks team—led by David Rone and his team, including Steve Paulus, Mark Shuken, Bernie Han and Pablo Urquiza and all of your teams who deliver stellar programming to our Hispanic customers, thank you.To our content acquisition teams led by Jennifer Chun and Andrew Rosenberg who do an amazing job working with our programming partners.Thanks also to our Spanish-language PR team dedicated to promoting our great content;To the teams that believed in us, our programming and our commitment to Hispanic consumers – we thank you for your vote of confidence in us.To Jeff Hirsch and the entire marketing team for your unwavering commitment to what matters most—connecting our customers to content that drives their passions;To our media partners;And to our leadership, Glenn Britt and Rob Marcus, for understanding, appreciating, and supporting our desire to constantly innovate in the business.

To Broadcasting & Cableand Multichannel News, I will proudly share this award with all 51,000 Time Warner Cable employees.

Finally, I’ll close as I opened…by saying something that represents how I feel about our Spanish-language customers…in Spanish…We appreciate and respect who you are. We celebrate what we have in common and what makes you unique. And we will always strive to reflect that in the programming and services we provide you.Agradecemos la oportunidad de servirles hoy y en el future.

Gracias a todos buenas tardes.