Univision, the nation’s leading Spanish-language broadcaster, focuses its public service on two key issues: public health and education.

“What we decided to do is develop a platform and then send a clear message through all our media companies,” says Ivelisse Estrada, senior VP of corporate and community relations. “That way, Hispanics can get these messages while they are watching TV, driving in their cars or working on their computers. One way or another, they get these messages that are so important for their daily lives.

“This is a commitment we’ve had since this company started,” Estrada continues. “Sometimes, Hispanics don’t have anywhere to go for help finding a medical facility or overcoming a drug problem or solving a domestic problem. It’s a matter of trust. And we also have a huge responsibility, because we know that they look to Univision to provide them with accurate and correct information as well as resources they need.”

Univision began its cross-platform campaign on education in 1999. The network, stations and radio network coordinate public-service announcements, community-affairs efforts and news stories to emphasize a pro-education message.

In 2003, Univision added a broad public-health campaign, called ¡Salud es Vida ... Enterate!, which means “Lead a healthy life … get the facts!” The campaign covers such topics as heart health, cancer, healthy lifestyle, organ donation, diabetes, obesity and mental health.

In May, the campaign won a Peabody Award for community service, the first for a Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S.

To capture viewers’ attention, the network features its most prominent talent in public-service announcements talking about issues that matter most to them. For example, host Don Francisco talks about his diabetes in a half-hour special, in PSAs and on his program Sabado Gigante; news anchor Teresa Rodriguez is featured in a PSA about heart disease, an issue important to her since her husband died of a heart attack in 2002.

Univision partners with many non-profits on its health efforts, including the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, March of Dimes and National Council of La Raza.

Univision also pushed hard to get out the Hispanic vote in 2004. Working with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Univision helped get 9.6 million Hispanics to the polls last year, says Diana Diaz, director of corporate and community relations at Univision.

“It goes back to the trust factor,” Diaz says, “and the obligation we have to provide our viewers with accurate information.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.