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Making an Impact On Diversity in TV

Reaching out to the fast-growing population of multicultural groups is a priority for every segment of the television industry. That’s why, a year ago, the editors of Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News decided it was time to recognize key individuals who are innovating and leading in various aspects of multicultural television, from advertising, programming and marketing to digital and pay television distributors.

This year, when we issued a call for nominations, about 100 entries were received. From them, 12 individuals stand out. Executives from Fox International Channels, NUVOtv, Starcom MediaVest Group, Time Warner Cable, Telemundo Media, Univision Communications, OMD, Asia TV USA Ltd., ESPN, BET Networks and Al Jazeera America will be honored for their achievements with Multicultural TV Leadership Awards at a luncheon ceremony this Wednesday (Feb. 4) in New York.

The selection was based on an independent scoring process by a vastly experienced group of judges, including the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, a religious leader and an activist in the African-American community; Dave Montes, a Latino and a leader in the LGBT community; Ambassador Sandra Fuentes Berain, a Hispanic community leader and a leading woman in a role that is often male-dominated; Cristina Saralegui, a popular Spanish-language talk show host who is best known for her programming that targets women and her activism in the LGBT community; and Rabbi Marc Gelman, part of the popular duo “The God Squad,” which has appeared on national and local TV as well as in a syndicated newspaper column.

This year, a new award category was created — the Multicultural TV Front Runner Award — and it honors Comcast and NBCUniversal for their leadership in the business of multicultural TV, and most notably for their contribution to viewers of multicultural television.

Particularly praiseworthy is Comcast/ NBCU’s “His Dream, Our Stories: The Legacy of the March on Washington.” It is a website that offers individuals the chance to share their thoughts about civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The video is moving, the comments inspiring. To experience it, visit It is an interactive book, program, video and online experience. To date, thousands have visited the site.

The Rev. Al Sharpton will present the Front Runner Award to David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, on behalf of Comcast/NBCUniversal.

Presenters will also include Jose Diaz- Balart, the Telemundo news anchor who was the 2012 recipient of the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hispanic Television, given annually at the Hispanic Television Summit, and Ruben Mendiola, Comcast general manager of multicultural services, a 2013 award recipient. Daytime-TV host Wendy Williams, whose show is popular with multicultural viewers as well as the general market, also will present recipients with their awards.


President & CEO
Fox International Channels

Why He’s Hot: In his role at 21st Century Fox’s Hispanic media group, Hernan Lopez oversees a massive international multichannel- television organization that operates more than 300 channels and their related online and production units. He is responsible for all operations of FIC, which produces channels primarily under the brands Fox, Fox Sports, National Geographic Channel, FX, Fox Life, Fox Crime, Nat Geo Wild, MovieCity and Star Movies. Collectively, the services reach more than 1.6 billion subscribers through 300-plus channels in Latin America, Europe, Asia/ Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

He also oversees FIC’s existing U.S. Hispanic cable networks Fox Deportes, Fox Life and Nat Geo Mundo, and oversaw the creation and management of MundoFox, the new U.S. Spanish-language broadcast network. MundoFox, a joint venture with RCN Television of Colombia, launched in August 2012.

Prior to his appointment as FIC president and CEO, Lopez served as president and general manager of FIC Latin America, a post he had held since 2000. There, he was credited with a turnaround and expansion plan that fostered a tenfold growth in revenue. During his tenure, including his promotion to COO of FIC in 2008, the company expanded into the premium, sports, production and online advertising businesses and launched such channels as FX, Fox Sports, Fox Life, MovieCity, Baby TV and Nat Geo Wild in Latin America and FX in the United Kingdom. It also was appointed distributor for NBC Universal’s cable channels in Latin America and Japan.

Career Highlights: Earlier in his career, Lopez was advertising sales director for Canal Fox, Fox Kids, and Fox Sports Latin America. Before originally joining Fox in 1997, he held positions in different companies in Argentina, including Canal 9 and Cablevision. A native of Argentina, he now lives in Los Angeles. In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Inte Award for best president/GM of a pay TV channel in Latin America. He is a member of the board of Fox Pan American Sports.


Chief Executive OfficerNUVOtv

Why He’s Hot: When it comes to diversity and the Latino marketplace, Michael Schwimmer knows what he’s talking about.

Having taught himself to speak fluent Spanish by the age of 15, Schwimmer joined Dish Network, EchoStar Communications’ nascent satellite-TV business, in 1996, where he would eventually engineer the launch of the Dish Latino programming platform. Revolutionary at the time, the multi-network programming package addressed the underserved, Spanish-language- dominant Latino audience.

In 2003, Schwimmer joined the board of NUVOtv — then known as Sí TV — before taking its helm in September of 2005. Despite the preponderance of successful Spanish-language networks, Schwimmer successfully evolved NUVOtv into an English-language network targeting a very large and growing segment of Latinos who consume their media in English, an audience that was being virtually ignored by both the media and advertising community.

In 2012, Schwimmer enlisted Grammy-winning singer/actress Jennifer Lopez to become the network’s chief creative officer. In October, he oversaw a major programming coup for the network, acquiring the cable-syndication rights to Showtime’s Miami-based drama series Dexter. Schwimmer said he’s fortunate to work at a network that truly serves the Latino culture.

“Latinos contribute so much to our country every day, and Latino culture in America is so rich and multilayered,” Schwimmer said. “I feel lucky to be in the position of working with talented people to create television programming that serves a long-underserved audience and represents a strong cultural force in our nation.”

Career Highlights: As Dish Network executive VP of programming and marketing, Schwimmer oversaw the importation and U.S. launch of more than 100 foreign-language television channels from countries around the world for delivery to America’s immigrant populations. “For me, diversity is primarily about fairness. It’s giving people a chance to reach their potential. When we do that, everybody wins.”


EVP, Head of SMG Americas Human Experience Strategy
Starcom MediaVest Group

Why She’s Hot: True insight into multicultural audiences starts with taking an “inside- out” perspective, Esther “E.T.” Franklin believes. She has examined the marketplace from inside out while forging a unique and pioneering role at one of the industry’s most powerful agencies. Through her efforts, iconic brands have gained deeper understanding of cultural identities and local and global media-consumption habits.

Before attaining her current position, Franklin developed a discipline known as cultural communication anthropology, or CAA. It explores cultural behaviors and communication consumption patterns to understand the impact on consumer adoption of brands, services, message engagement and content development. She also spearheaded the creation of Consumer Context Planning, which transformed SMG from media firm to marketing partner with a stronger emphasis on emerging communication vehicles and human understanding.

Franklin’s passion for cultural and identity issues drove work on “Beyond Demographics,” landmark and proprietary research exploring the role of subculture in redefining broader communities. Individual components have focused on African- American, Latino, Asian-American and LGBT communities, reshaping perspectives on each audience and how clients ought to engage with them.

The African-American portion, for example, outlines 12 archetypes, including “Devouts,” “Backboners,” “Buppies,” “Fly Girls” and “Thrivals.” The report, prepared in partnership with Professor Nat Irvin of the University of Louisville, describes a “complex mosaic” created by these interrelated archetypes. “Our research guides us down a more inclusive path in our marketing efforts, and it will enable us to build more engaging connections, shaped by a real understanding of the individual segments,” the report said.

Career highlights: Franklin was named an Advertising Age “Women to Watch” and received the “Changing the Game” honor from AWNY. She was named a Top Women Executive in Advertising & Marketing by Black Enterprise (2012 and 2013). Franklin spent most of her career at Leo Burnett working on various Philip Morris brands as VP, planning director for Marlboro USA. She was instrumental in launching several trend initiatives focused on women and twenty-somethings, such as LeoShe, Foresight Matters and 20Twenty Vision.


President, Sports, News and Local Programming
Time Warner Cable

Why He’s Hot: Time Warner Cable has been one of the leaders in exploring how multicultural content can scale quickly in strong subscriber bases. Rone has anchored the team rolling out two Los Angeles- area regional sports networks: Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the first Spanish-language RSN in the U.S. Time Warner Cable Deportes gives fans more access to the Los Angeles Lakers than ever before, through extensive live studio and original programming, all in Spanish.

Rone also oversaw the launch of Korean SAP for Lakers telecasts, making Lakers games available in that language for the first time. He is also responsible for behind-the-scenes programming and more than 180 live sporting events per year apiece on the RSNs, as well as on Time Warner Cable’s 40 local news, sports and lifestyle programming channels and 50 local video-on-demand channels. He represents TWC’s interests in SportsNet New York, the TV home of the New York Mets, and SportsNet LA, the new regional television home for the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning with the 2014 baseball season.

His multicultural efforts have been institutionalized to the point that more than 50% of TWC Sports’ employees are minorities.

Career Highlights: Rone previously worked for Evolution Media Capital (EMC), a boutique investment-banking firm for the media and sports industries formed in partnership with the entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Prior to joining EMC, he served as co-head of CAA Sports, which represents more than 650 of the world’s top athletes and sports professionals and advises many leading sports organizations. Previously, he served as executive VP of Fox Sports Networks and general manager for Fox College Sports. Before joining Fox in 1999, he spent nine years in various roles at The Walt Disney Co., most recently as VP, business development for corporate alliances. Rone started his career as a corporate attorney.


Vice President of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer
BET Networks

Why She’s Hot: Vicky Free understands how important it is to extend a network’s brand across all platforms to reach a target audience.

A veteran with nearly two decades of brand marketing and media-management experience, Free is executive vice president and chief marketing officer for BET Networks, where she directs consumer insights, brand management consumer marketing, creative strategy and research for BET and sister network Centric across all platforms. Free, who earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Southern California and an executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, handles all of BET’s off-channel marketing and media planning, affiliate and trade marketing, and consumer insights and business analytics.

Free cut her teeth at Turner Broadcasting System, where she led the emerging markets and promotions team for TNT, TBS and TCM. While there, she launched the breakout marketing campaigns for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and The Closer .

Free is an active member of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications and Women in Cable Telecommunications. She is a graduate of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s Executive Leadership program at Harvard University, and sits on Viacom’s Global Inclusion advisory board.

Free said the importance and influence of diversity in both business and entertainment cannot be overstated. “The tremendous reach and influence of today’s multicultural consumer can be seen everywhere we look. They’re influencing pop culture, setting the trends and determining what’s now and what’s next from a transmedia, global perspective.”

Career Highlights: As director of women’s initiatives for McDonald’s, Free headed multicultural brand management. She led strategic marketing efforts at Turner, developing the 360 consumer-marketing department, designed to build effective consumer engagement campaigns for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim entertainment properties.


Vice President, Marketing
Time Warner Cable

Why She’s Hot: As vice president of multicultural marketing, Alessandra Otero- Reiss developed successful strategies and marketing campaigns that drove share, as well as product and service introduction of video, Internet and voice services in the diverse communities served by Time Warner Cable. She was then was promoted to her current position at the cable company, with responsibilities for growing revenue profitably from the existing subscriber base.

Otero-Reiss joined TWC in 2009 as director of targeted marketing in New York City. Her focus was on executing marketing programs that promote subscriber growth and ensure customer loyalty and retention. She was also responsible for implementing marketing communications for the New York retail and sale channels.

Otero-Reiss has successfully developed strategies that directly target the audience of various multicultural programmers. In her past and current role for the company, she has led multiple marketing campaigns appealing directly to diverse communities, including the TWC-NYC Winter ’13 Nexos Latinos magazine and the Chinese immersion campaign in Queens.

Through her support and leadership, the company has been able to reach multiple segments of the communities it serves by tailoring marketing campaign tactics for relevance to each community.

She is a founder and executive sponsor of ¡HOLA TWC!, Time Warner Cable’s first Hispanic Employee Network. She is a member of National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications and of Women in Cable Telecommunications. She resides in New York with her husband and sons.

Career Highlights: Prior to joining TWC, Otero-Reiss director of marketing/competitive intelligence for Verizon Communications and was part of the FiOS launch team in New York. She has a wide breadth of consumer and brand marketing experience in both the general and multicultural markets. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and a MBA in International Marketing from Baruch College.


Executive Vice President Of Advertising Sales
Telemundo Media

Why He’s Hot: The longtime agency executive joined NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo in 2013. He leads the network, cable and digital sales teams of Telemundo and mun2, overseeing all advertising-revenue generation, including Telemundo Media cross-platform sales initiatives and multiplatform integrated marketing solutions.

Previously, the 25-year media veteran was president of investment and activation at Starcom, where he led efforts for more than $9 billion in media budgets across categoryleading clients such as Kellogg, Mars/ Wrigley, Samsung and Bank of America. The transformations he spearheaded led to better alignment with technological advances and rapidly evolving consumer behaviors across languages and devices.

His outstanding achievements have earned significant recognition. In 2010, he was named to the “Mediaweek 50,” Adweek Media’s annual compilation of “indispensables.” In 2006, he was named TV Week’s “Media Buyer of the Year.” His leadership of several organizations garnered additional honors, including General Motors’s “Supplier of the Year” award in 2010 and 2011 (the only time an advertising/media agency was ever honored by GM); Adweek’s “Media Plan of the Year” (2011) for Super Bowl “Glee-mercial”; Cannes Media Lions Finalist (Use of Mixed Media) for Cadillac/ CBS “The Cadillac of Premieres” promotion (2008); and Adweek’s “Agency of the Year” (2006) for GM Planworks.

Career Highlights: Prior to Starcom, Rosen served as president, investment at SMG’s GM Planworks. He has also held media negotiation positions at IPG’s GM Mediaworks and Atwood Richards. Before that, he was founder and chairman of Baker Hill Media Services, an independent media services agency.

Earlier in his media career, Rosen held positions at Time Buying Services, J. Walter Thompson, Campbell-Mithun and NW Ayer. He holds a juris doctorate from the Fordham University School of Law and a bachelor’s of science in Communications from Cornell University. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association.


Group Account Director

OMD Multicultural

Why He’s Hot: In his position at OMD Multicultural, Cesar Sroka is responsible for leading and integrating total market strategy and activation for such important accounts as PepsiCo, Time Warner Cable and JCPenney. He is an award-winning bilingual and bicultural marketing leader with more than 15 years of experience in the Hispanic market, encompassing strategic media planning and buying, interactive and digital marketing, direct marketing, promotions and event marketing.

Sroka has been a tireless advocate for helping agencies and media companies leverage their assets and bring solutions to clients in a way that communicates exciting and relevant programs. Because of his leadership in this area, a number of OMD clients have significantly increased investments with such multicultural TV networks as Univision; Telemundo; BET; TV One and its One Solution crossplatform product; mun2; and ESPN Deportes. Beyond that, Sroka has driven proper and strategic “ways of working” among clients, agencies and networks to ensure a total communications approach that addresses attitudes, behaviors and mindsets, as well as language.

For example, he proactively developed a program with Univision and Pepsi to make the network’s coverage of Mexican League side Chivas Guadalajara become the Monday Night Football of soccer — and extended it to the “second screen.” He shaped this program to sit at the intersection of sports and music, the two key passion points for the Pepsi business.

Sroka developed a scorecard for all multicultural media efforts, and at least one client has adopted this and made brand managers accountable to it. His contributions led to Pepsi significantly increasing its investment in multicultural over the past year.

Career Highlights: Prior to joining OMD, he served as senior vice president and group connections director at MediaVest/ MV42, where he led the media strategy and activation for Walmart. Before that, Sroka was VP and group media director at Global Hue, a top multicultural advertising agency, presiding over the media strategy for Verizon Communications’ wireless and landline businesses. He began his media planning career at Publicidad Ferrer USA for brands such as Citibank and Western Union.


Vice President of Media Planning and Multiplatform Strategy

Univision Networks

Why She’s Hot: When Univision Networks last January announced the formation of an internal agency to oversee more than $500 million worth of inventory across its broadcast and cable on-air platforms, Silvia Garcia was at the heart of the announcement as leader of media planning across that portfolio. Her duties include overseeing strategic planning, campaign management and prioritization, supporting traffic and master control divisions, overseeing break architecture and managing messaging strategy for secondary events and radio.

Garcia also works closely with other divisions to build out media planning and strategy in support of Univision’s digital, radio, local and empowerment platforms.

With more than 18 years of experience in the media industry, Garcia is known for being incredibly skilled in strategic planning around multicultural programming. Her leadership at the Univision Agency has helped Univision more effectively manage inventory, cross-promote and deliver audiences.

Prior to this role, Garcia was director of media planning for Univision Networks, where she managed media planning for all Univision’s programming promotions across all divisions. Before joining Univision, Silvia spent 15 years at Discovery Communications in various roles focused around content operations and promotional strategies as a part of a core team of four who built the media-planning model across the Latin America/International regions.

She is also one of the founding members of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) in Miami.

Career Highlights: While at Discovery, she led the implementation of “Grip It!,” a system that measures the efficiency and effectiveness of on-air promotions and helps optimize program schedules. In her time at Discovery, she served in various roles focused around content operations and promotional strategies as part of a core team of four who built the mediaplanning model across the Latin America/ International regions.


Senior VP, Content Distribution & Marketing

Asia TV USA Ltd.

Why He’s Hot: Learning the TV business from the ground up, Timothy Boell started his career as a Viacom Cable door-to-door representative in Long Island, N.Y., some 30 years ago. Now, he’s responsible for the leadership and direction of the Content Distribution and Affiliate Marketing Team at Asia TV USA Ltd., the licensed distributor of the Zee TV and Veria Living brands throughout the Americas.

During his career, he has held various leadership roles in management, distribution, and marketing functions at Viacom Media Networks, Sundance Channel, Showtime Networks and Viacom Cable. At Viacom Media Networks, he was a part of the senior team that successfully launched the multiplatform premium network Epix. At Sundance Channel, he led the distribution and affiliate-marketing teams and was a member of the management team that sold Sundance Channel to AMC Networks.

He has secured the launch of 20 Zee TV Networks on multiple platforms in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. He secured multicultural distribution agreements with Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems and ECG in Canada as well as innovative over-the-top platforms. He has a keen understanding of the U.S. South Asian market.

Boell does business using a creative sales approach that enables both parties to feel content throughout the negotiation process. He empowers his staff to abandon conventional thinking and develop sales and marketing strategies that move the business forward. He’s an inclusive leader and encourages team collaboration in business decisions.

Career Highlights: Boell was an integral member of the launch team for Sundance Channel, one of the networks to highlight and promote programming for the LGBT audience. While at Sundance Channel, Tim was instrumental in obtaining distribution with major cable providers, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Charter Communications.


VP, ESPN Deportes Programming & Business Initiatives ESPN

Why He’s Hot: Based at ESPN’s offices in Bristol, Conn., Freddy Rolón Jr. oversees all programming for ESPN Deportes, including acquisitions, development and scheduling. He is the network’s programming point person with all internal stakeholders and manages the ESPN Deportes Programming organization, as well as external relationships with leagues and rights holders.

Rolón is also responsible for the ESPN Deportes Radio business and ESPN Deportes digital initiatives. Since joining the worldwide sports leader a decade ago, he has played a pivotal role in the company’s efforts around the U.S. Hispanic market and the brand’s international businesses.

Rolón also has a pivotal role on ESPN’s overall efforts around the Hispanic market. For the last two years, he has spearheaded several programming initiatives to better serve the Hispanic sports fan.

During his first four years with the company, he was part of the marketing team that launched ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language network. He then led the marketing efforts for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes, playing a key role in the growth of both audio brands.

He also played a pivotal role in the development of ESPN Sync, the first and only second-screen TV companion dedicated to sports content. The new platform ties to ESPN’s multimedia approach while taking advantage of growing Hispanic online consumption and the rise of simultaneous use of TV and mobile.

Career Highlights: Prior to his promotion 2011, Rolón served as the senior director, ESPN Deportes Radio and Business Initiatives. He was instrumental in developing a five-year plan for ESPN Deportes to achieve growth targets through a new sales structure and reinvestment in U.S.-specific programming. Through this, he was able to identify, create and develop initiatives that produced sustainable, long-term growth through deal evaluation. He also worked with business leaders to manage startup phases of new business initiatives, including the ESPN Local initiative.


Senior Executive Producer, ‘America Tonight’

Al Jazeera America

Why She’s Hot: News has been as dynamic as any category during the recent surge of multicultural programming, with Univision-ABC News joint venture Fusion, news-heavy all-music channel Revolt and Al Jazeera America all launching over the past four months. As senior executive producer of Al Jazeera flagship program America Tonight, Bondy strives to give a voice to the voiceless by telling character-driven stories that get at larger issues facing Americans.

Bondy has hired a diverse staff, 60% of whom are multicultural, and their varying backgrounds help give a new perspective to America Tonight’s coverage. Under her leadership, America Tonight has covered important topics such as treatment of LGBT citizens by the New York police, response to sex crimes on college campuses, the ongoing humanitarian and health crisis in Haiti and a range of issues affecting Native American communities.

Career Highlights: Bondy, a 20-year news vet, previously led TV One’s election coverage. Until 2006, she served as the vice president of morning programming at CNN, as well as the executive producer of that network’s American Morning with Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien. At CNN, Bondy led the breaking coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the Iraq war. She led Hurricane Katrina coverage for CNN, bringing a personal perspective to the coverage, as she herself lost a home in the storm. For her efforts, Bondy and her team won a prestigious Peabody Award and that same year she received the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Prior to CNN, Bondy was at NBC News as an executive and senior producer, working on such award-winning programs as the Today show, Weekend Today and Nightly News Weekend Edition. She got her start in the industry as a production assistant at her hometown station, WDSU in New Orleans.