U.S. Hispanic media consumers will ultimately be the ones to determine the relative importance of a notable recent media trend affecting their communities. The trend—which, incidentally, has unfolded largely unnoticed—is laid out in the data tables accompanying this article. Its message has to do with media ownership and the fact that most media serving U.S. Hispanic consumers is either foreign- or non-Hispanic-owned.
Does ownership matter? That’s one big question Hispanic media consumers will ultimately decide.
Forty years ago, the burning concern among minorities was how to bring about greater coverage of public issues that were crucial to the social development of minority communities in the U.S. One response was to promote and enable minority media ownership.
Beginning in the 1960s, U.S. Hispanic entrepreneurs helped instigate programs at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in state governments concerned about diversity in emerging local media markets. From the mid-1960s into the late '70s, these groups coalesced around minority media ownership as a federal concern. Throughout the 1970s and into the '80s, some progress was achieved at the entrepreneurial level, as minority business owners began to launch and acquire print publications, radio stations and local television licenses.
Fast forward to December 2012, when Hector E. Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, writes to Julius Genachowski, current FCC chairman, to urge the commission to reconsider backing down on rules designed to protect minority voices from being quashed by increased broadcast consolidation.
“To achieve progress as a community,” Mr. Sanchez writes, “we must break away from the status quo and become empowered to fully participate in this nation’s affairs.” He points out that U.S. Hispanics, despite making up more than 16 percent of the country’s population, own just 2.9 percent of full-power commercial television stations, and 4.5 percent and 2.7 percent of AM and FM radio outlets, respectively.
The mass-media market has greatly changed over the years—particularly of late with the rise of Web-based media and the opportunities that have arisen as a result. Unfortunately, as Mr. Sanchez’s comments indicate, some things have changed little over the years—or are in danger of changing back to the way they were in a not-so-rosy yesteryear.
In the charts below, we paint a picture of the current state of U.S. Hispanic ownership of media targeting the Hispanic community, from online publishing to magazines.
The list of the top 10 websites as ranked by U.S. Hispanic visitors might come as a surprise at first, as not one of the sites is U.S. Hispanic owned. However, U.S. Hispanics visit many of the same sites as the rest of the population. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Wikimedia—the sites you’d expect would be popular—do indeed dominate this list. An interesting facet of this list is the reach into the U.S. Hispanic market obtained by some of these Web properties. Google at 85 percent, Microsoft at 76.9 percent and Facebook at 70 percent. It remains to be seen how responsive these companies will be toward Hispanic media-consumers moving forward.
Broadcast and Cable Television
Estrella TV, as the only U.S. Hispanic-owned network, stands alone among the channels U.S. Hispanics watch the most. A property of Burbank, Calif.-based Liberman Broadcasting, Estrella TV comes in at No. 8 as the most-watched broadcast network, according to Nielsen. Liberman, established in 1987, is the largest privately held, minority-owned Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., according to the company website.
The majority of the other networks on these lists (one is broadcast television, while the other is cable) are now owned by media conglomerates such as Comcast, Walt Disney or News Corp. Univision—the No. 1 network, with an impressive 14.5 Household Rating—has been owned by investor group Broadcast Media Partners since 2007. Azteca America, No. 10 on the broadcast network list, is wholly owned by Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca.
(Entravision, another big player in both TV and radio that doesn’t appear on these lists, owns and/or operates 53 TV stations across the U.S. primarily as an affiliate for Univision and TeleFutura as well as 48 radio stations located primarily in top Hispanic markets in the Southwest and Florida. Entravision is a publicly traded company that is not U.S. Hispanic-majority owned.)
It is difficult to crack the top 10 radio station list when eight of the 10 entries are all owned by one company, Univision. However, two companies have managed to do just that. WSKQ in New York, owned by Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), and KRQB, owned by Liberman Broadcasting, are the top stations in their respective markets, and both are U.S. Hispanic owned.
This list, provided by Arbitron, showcases the top radio station in each of the 10 largest Hispanic media markets in the U.S. Although U.S. Hispanic-owned stations don’t dominate this list, they are well represented in radio. Spanish Broadcasting, the largest publicly traded Hispanic-controlled media and entertainment company in the U.S., according to the company’s website, owns and operates 20 radio stations in the largest Hispanic markets in the U.S., including the No. 1 Spanish-language radio station in the country, WSKQ. Liberman owns and operates 11 stations of its own across the country as well.
Not one of the top 10 Hispanic magazines in the U.S., as presented by Hispanic Magazine Monitor, is U.S. Hispanic-owned. The list is dominated by two companies (Televisa Publishing and Meredith Corporation) that together own five of the 10 magazines listed. Televisa Publishing is owned by Grupo Televisa, a Mexican mass-media company, while Meredith Corporation is a publicly traded, nonminority-owned U.S. company.
Other companies on the list include Latina Media Ventures (majority-owned by Solera Caplital LLC, a New York-based private investment firm), Maya Publishing Group (a subsidiary of Grupo Editorial Notmusa in Mexico) and Impremedia, which was recently purchased by U.S. Hispanic Media Inc., a subsidiary of Argentinian company S.A. La Nacion.
People en Espanol, the reigning champion at the top of the list with $55.5 million in advertising revenue, is owned by Time Inc.
But now another question arises: Will the unregulated nature of the wild, wild Web give U.S. Hispanics a second crack at owning the media that serve them, and provide the community with access to programming issues of importance to their public interests?
The endless space of this medium leaves a lot of room for Hispanic-owned properties to make their mark. Hispanic-owned companies know this. Of the 2012 HispanicBusiness 500 companies, 482 have websites, up from just 205 a little over a decade ago. Although none of these sites will likely appear on comScore’s top 10 list anytime soon, they are certainly out there and being utilized to obtain market share for U.S. Hispanic-owned companies.
Although questions of media ownership and access to capital remain, using the Intranet as a no-holds-barred publishing platform may open up long-sought opportunities to the Hispanic entrepreneur.
Research by HispanicTelligence.
Source: HispanicBusiness.com (c) 2012. All rights reserved.