Hispanic TV Summit: Telemundo's Browne -- Count On Census 2010 Being A 'Game-Changer'

Telemundo Communications Group president Don Browne has no doubt the 2010 Census will be "a game-changer" for Hispanics.

Browne, in an interview during the Hispanic Television Summit, sponsored by B&C and Multichannel News here on Sept. 24, made it abundantly clear that Hispanics and media who served them should expect big things after their numbers are tallied.

"This is a game-changer for Hispanics around the country and for our businesses," Browne told attendees at the seventh annual Summit session, moderated by Multichannel News executive editor of content Kent Gibbons. "Being counted is just as important as voting. It represents where the government is and with that comes hundreds of millions of dollars that are allocated back to the communities. For Hispanic media, more meters in more markets, means how much more successful your businesses are going to be."

Browne said that while marketers are aware that large numbers of Hispanics reside in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Miami, "post-Census" data will detail exactly where members of the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority in the U.S. live. He noted for those "who have not had a wake-up call, this is going to put us over the top."

According to the Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, 45.4 million, or 15.1% of the U.S. population was Hispanic. Between 2010 and 2050 that total is projected to treble. Meanwhile, the economic clout of U.S. Hispanics will soar from $862 billion in 2007 to $1.2 trillion in 2012, or 9.7% of all U.S. buying power.

Browne said the minority group's rise is inevitable, but impediments remain in the counting ahead, owing to Hispanics' "normal suspicions" and aggressive immigration policies that have made many reluctant to participate. Indeed, during the 2000 Census, Hispanics were undercounted by some 3.5 million.

To that end, Telemundo, working with community groups, has spearheaded "Hazte Contar!" ("Be Counted"), a multiplatform, outreach program to educate and increase awareness of the 2010 Census among Hispanics, and decrease Latino wariness about the governmental headcount.

"We want to make sure that people know this is one of the most confidential processes you can be involved in," he said.

Browne said Telemundo has also been trying to impart that message via a storyline about a Census recruiter in its Mas Sabe El Diablo (The Devil Knows Best) novela

"It's empowerment through entertainment," said Browne, noting that the network, which develops its own programming, always tries to include three or four socially relevant themes within the fare.