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Villar, Costantini Lead Off at Hispanic Summit

New York -- About 250 people descended on the Copacabana here Wednesday for the start of the Fourth Annual Hispanic Television Summit 2006.

Kicking off the summit after a welcome lunch were Arturo Villar, publisher of Hispanic Market Weekly, and keynote speaker Lynne Costantini, who was just promoted to senior vice president and chief business-affairs officer for Time Warner Cable.

Villar began by framing the two-day event within the history of efforts in Hispanic television, from the first local experiments in Spanish-language programming in 1961 up to the $12.3 billion sale of Univision Communications two weeks ago. The growing momentum, he said, has brought the industry to its second phase of evolution.

“It’s not only going to be Spanish-language: It’s going to be Hispanic,” he added. The identity difference is found in the fact that 50% of Hispanics are non-Spanish-language-oriented, which includes English-only, English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics.

Villar said once the real identity of this diverse ethnic group was recognized, distribution, content and advertising opportunities would emerge more clearly.

Costantini echoed those sentiments, describing the challenges brought about by MSO consolidation, ad agencies grappling with a more diverse audience, demographic shifts to bilingual and bicultural and rapid technology growth.

Stressing “relevance,” Costantini suggested that cross-programming was key, not only pushing telenovelas, but also off-network syndicated fare such as The Simpsons and reality programming such as American Idol that could resonate with Hispanic audiences.

She gave examples of successes in San Antonio, where Time Warner Cable has bilingual programming, Latino TV personalities, Spanish-speaking staff and Spanish-language on-demand fare, as well as incentives geared toward Hispanic subscribers.