The novela
is the soul of Hispanic television. And the best way to reach Hispanic viewers with a social initiative—no matter what the issue—is through that format.

That's the logic behind the innovative shift going on at Telemundo under Ramon Escobar, executive vice president of programming and production.

"If we're going to be contemporary, we have to make sure our storylines and content reflect that, especially in prime time," he says. And if the stories are dealing with issues ranging from immigration to Alzheimer's to drug abuse, then why not use them as jumping-off points for public-service campaigns wrapped around the shows.

Escobar hired producer Anjanette Delgado to get the network's messages out through its programming.

That's not to say the network is totally breaking with tradition: It's owned by NBC, and Telemundo recently launched a Spanish-language version of the Peacock's The More You Know campaign, El Poder de Saber. This year's initiative, which features various Telemundo stars in public-service announcements, consists of three parts: Anótate el Gol de Tu Vida
(Score the Goal of a Lifetime), a stay-in-school message; Ayúdales a Educar
(Help Them Educate), which tries to get parents active in their kids' education; and Nunca es Tarde
(It's Never Too Late), which encourages adults to complete their education. (Telemundo is also launching a Web site solely for this.)

The most relevant novela
that Telemundo has run was Prisionera
about an illegal immigrant who is searching for her daughter but is afraid of dealing with the authorities and doesn't know about resources available to her. Telemundo offered vignettes encouraging viewers to call the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association for help in similar situations. The program generated 21,000 phone calls.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller has been writing about television for 30 years since he first joined Variety as a staff writer. He has written about television for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Vulture and numerous other publications.