Q&A: Comcast’s Susan Gonzales

Ever since joining Comcast in 2003, Susan Gonzales has been at the forefront of the company’s diversity initiatives, first as regional senior director of communications and more recently in the government affairs office working in Washington with elected officials, community leaders and minority organizations. These days, Gonzales is busy gearing up for the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver (August 25-28), which Comcast will cover gavel-to-gavel in Spanish for the first time. Gonzales spoke to Hispanic TV Update about the unprecedented Spanish-language effort and the company’s recent partnerships with Terra.com and Entravision. An edited transcript follows:

Q: In addition to translating the entire Democratic Convention into Spanish, Comcast has enlisted Entravision as partner to deliver such Spanish-language content. How did that partnership come about and what does it entail?

A: This partnership came about from discussions I had with [Entravision’s CEO] Walter Ulloa. We were discussing how Comcast was committed to the Democratic Convention and that we were going to be translating the convention’s content into Spanish. Entravision made a perfect partner for us to extend the reach of that Spanish-language content via their TV networks, radio stations and Web properties. This means that our Spanish-language content will not only be available on cable companies around the country on VOD (per the original agreement with the Democratic Convention) but now Entravision will also be distributing it. Overall, this partnership demonstrates the commitment of Comcast to the Latino community and in doing what we can as corporate citizen to get, and share information with them.

Q: Entravision owns and operates some of the country’s largest affiliates of Univision and Telefutura. Why do you think it’s different from the Spanish-language content you can offer?

A: What we will be doing at the Convention is very different, because we are going to cover it gavel-to-gavel, approximately eight hours a day. This is very different from covering it mainly as a news item.

Q: What’s the Web site component of the deal?

A: Terra.com and the Entravision radio and TV stations’ Web sites are going to be streaming content through their Web sites. Some may be live and some may be news updates from the date. There will be something at the home pages at each of the Web sites. The coverage on the Web and the news coverage will be based on the scheduled speakers, but these will not be released until the second week of August. But what’s important here is that this is the first time in history that the Latino community will have access to Spanish language from a Democratic Convention.

Q: How is the coverage going to be done?

A: The Comcast Media Center is located -- by chance -- in Denver. So during the Democratic Convention a team of four Spanish translators will be working in translating all the events.

Q: How do you view Latinos’ participation in this upcoming election?

A: Based on the primary and the elections today the Latino community has never been so acknowledged and involved, and it’s imperative that the Latino community understands the messages coming from the conventions to make decisions and to encourage them to get out to vote.

Q: Speaking of which, Comcast was at the forefront of “Our Time to Vote,” a multicultural voter registration effort. How did that do and are there plans to launch a second phase?

A: The Our Time to Vote initiative has been quite successful in getting the Latino community to learn more about the election process through organizations such as NALEO and LULAC; we are going to continue the effort from September to November and focusing on the younger voter. In fact we are going to be taping the new PSA’s in two weeks -- among celebrities attending the NCLR Alma Awards -- and we will begin airing those PSA’s on September 4 as a countdown to the general elections.