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LA TV Hums National Rollout Tune en Espanol

LA TV, which currently reaches 4 million Los Angeles-area households, wants to extend its reach nationwide.

The initial goal for the bilingual service, which airs music videos, celebrity interviews and entertainment news, is to gain digital-cable carriage in the top 10 markets by positioning itself as an alternative to other music-video or pop-culture networks.

"We're out to compete with the general youth channels like MTV, along with Univision and Galavisiòn," said LA TV president Daniel Crowe. "Our format is more like Total Request Live
or Saturday Night Live
than MTV Latino or other such channels. When you're out to be a logical part of digital-basic plans, you have to create programming with broader appeal."

Since its debut in January 2001, LA TV has grown through cable clearances under must-carry transmissions of broadcast station KJLA-TV. Some 500,000 customers of DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network can also watch it.

Crowe said parent company LA TV LLC is Latino-owned, privately financed and "self-sufficient." But, a move to obtain more funding from various sources is a possibility, depending on how quickly cable systems embrace the channel.

LA TV's distribution efforts are being spearheaded by new affiliate-relations chief Starrett Berry, the former Galavisiòn executive, who will be meeting with MSO representatives at the National Show in Chicago this week.

With Berry aboard, LA TV also hopes to play up another recent measure of its growing stature — an Imagen Award for best variety special. The ceremony, co-established by Norman Lear almost two decades ago, cited the channel's second anniversary special.

Geared to an audience aged 18 to 34, the channel's programming also showcases concerts and on-the-street audience participation segments, all bridged by a group of 13 hosts. Once a national service, LA TV plans to add fashion and lifestyle components, as well as feature films headlined by Latino stars or themes. Bilingual theatricals — Spanish-language films with English subtitles — are also on tap.

In recent weeks, the service has averaged more than a 1 primetime rating among Latino households in its market, according to Nielsen Media Research's Hispanic index. The channel also claims more than 40 national advertisers.

Operators will get several minutes of local avails per hour.