Monday, September 7, 2009

Stations Hope Estrella's a 'Star'

The Spanish-language channel Estrella TV dramatically expands its reach in the coming weeks, as some 17 partner stations join its seven owned stations in airing Estrella programming. Spanish for “star,” Estrella's founders fittingly have sky-high hopes for the Liberman Broadcasting-owned network as it launches on the likes of Belo's KENS San Antonio and Hearst's KOAT Albuquerque. Producing 56 hours of original programming a week, co-founder and executive VP Lenard Liberman doesn't see the competition as Hispanic-focused digital channels like LATV and Mexicanal; he's taking the fight to big dogs Univision and Telemundo.

“With our O&Os, it just seemed logical to start our own network,” he says. “We're a compelling alternative to the novelas the others try to focus on.”

While a Hispanic network without the famously breathless telenovela soaps might seem like CBS without procedural crime dramas, Liberman says the genre has experienced a “significantly declining audience.” Instead Liberman studies what Hispanics are watching across the mainstream dial, such as a reality show on MTV, and develops programs based on that. The Estrella lineup features everything from the musical variety show Estudio 2 to comedies and dramas to a daily national newscast, Noticias 62.

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