Liberman Readies Launch of Estrella TV

Liberman Broadcasting, the Burbank, Calif.-based broadcaster, has tapped former Telemundo station group president Ibra Morales to lead the launch of Estrella TV, a new Spanish-language network it hopes to premiere in the first quarter of 2009.

According to Liberman chief operating officer Winter Horton, the new venture is being built through a combination of acquisitions and the company expects to be in 70% of U.S. Hispanic homes by the end of first quarter.

“We have spent the last 10 years working on creating and refining our programming to the point that we now produce 55 hours a week of original programming,” Horton told Multichannel News. “A lot of other players in the business rushed in to secure distribution first, but without figuring out the content side. We did the opposite.”

Privately held Liberman Broadcasting, which owns a group of 30 radio and television stations in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, San Diego and Phoenix, offers a variety of programming targeting mostly Mexican-Americans, with comedy, music and game shows featuring some of Mexico’s longtime comedians. And although the company now wants to expand its reach by targeting a wider audience, it will keep a close attention to Mexican audiences, by far the largest.

“You will see we’ve tried to be more neutral, but Mexicans are still the majority. And the success of Univision shows that the model works,” Horton said.

Liberman’s full power Los Angeles station, KRCA is a ratings winner among a mostly Mexican audience. During the latest November sweeps period, KRCA ranked No. 2 in primetime among males 18-34 and males 18-49, after the local Univision affiliate, KMEX.

Two years in the making, Estrella TV said it has the ability to self-fund growth with over $200 million in available liquidity and no need for external capital to meet objectives. The goal is ambitious: “We’re not launching to be the fifth network,” Horton said. “We want to compete head to head with Univision.”