San Diego: No Habla Español

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 27% of San Diego County is Hispanic. However, for the most part, English-language stations in the area don’t attempt to tailor any of their programming to this segment of the population. That doesn’t mean they don’t run stories that would likely appeal to Hispanic viewers. San Diego’s proximity to the Mexican border inevitably gives rise to news about immigration issues, Mexican workers coming to the U.S. for work and vice versa, and similar topics. But these stories have a widespread appeal in the market. In general, most of the English-language broadcasters would rather not treat their Hispanic viewers differently from the rest of San Diego’s television-viewing public.
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According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 27% of San Diego County is Hispanic. However, for the most part, English-language stations in the area don’t attempt to tailor any of their programming to this segment of the population. That doesn’t mean they don’t run stories that would likely appeal to Hispanic viewers. San Diego’s proximity to the Mexican border inevitably gives rise to news about immigration issues, Mexican workers coming to the U.S. for work and vice versa, and similar topics. But these stories have a widespread appeal in the market. In general, most of the English-language broadcasters would rather not treat their Hispanic viewers differently from the rest of San Diego’s television-viewing public.

Keith York, program manager at KPBS (PBS) exemplifies this viewpoint: "We think of the Hispanic population as part of our general market constituents," he said. His station does not have any programming specifically targeted at a Hispanic audience. Nevertheless, he says Hispanic viewers make up a large part of the audience watching KPBS’ cartoon and kids’ programming in the mornings.

KSWB (WB) vice president and general manager Robert Ramsey says his station reports heavily on issues in Baja California, which is the part of Mexico that San Diego borders. Still, the focus of those stories is on what appeals to all of San Diego’s constituents. "We pay a lot of attention to stories that happen over the border in Baja, because what happens in Baja affects everybody this side of the border," he said.

KNSD (NBC) vice president and general manager Phyllis Schwartz said that although her station does not have specifically Hispanic-oriented programming, it does have a service on its website, www.nbcsandiego.com, which lists daily news headlines in Spanish.
Similarly, XETV (Fox), which happens to have its transmitter in Mexico, does not have specifically "Hispanic" programming, although it has launched a series of public service programs entitled "Life Lessons," which it airs in both Spanish and English.

Preston Turegano, a TV columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, says the fact that English-only TV stations don’t offer much Hispanic-oriented programming is more a symptom of power politics than an effort to "be fair" and reach all of San Diego’s ethnic groups. According to him, even though San Diego has a large Hispanic population, the majority of those in powerful governmental and other positions are Anglo-Americans. Therefore, the programming at the English-language stations, he says, "...goes hand in hand with what the movers and shakers in the community are doing."