Many Latinos may be feeling wooed the wrong way these days.
“Looking to tap the wealth of U.S. Latinos, CNN is planning to introduce a Spanish-language programming service tailored for broadcast TV stations next year.
The service, CNN Latino, is being designed as an eight-hour programming block featuring news, documentaries, talk shows and lifestyle programming. It is expected to launch in late January in Los Angeles on independent station KBEH-DT Channel 63 and eventually be carried by TV stations in other cities. …
With CNN Latino, the company is attempting to diversify by providing a syndicated block of entertainment shows — not just news — to share in the increasing amount of advertising dollars being steered to Latino outlets. CNN’s goal is to compete with established Spanish-language networks.”
Cynthia Hudson-Fernández, the lady in charge at CNN en Español and the network’s Latino division, said the new programming is meant to court “bilingual Latinos … who feel 100% American and 100% Latino.”
It seems to me that if a network wants to slap the tag “Latino” onto a new line of programming geared toward bilingual Latinos, the network should know and understand who exactly they’re targeting. And while Latinos are probably the most diverse group on the planet, there are certain things true in general about them.
The jefa steering CNN’s Latino marketing strategy should know that as new Latinos are born and raised in the United States, each successive generation becomes increasingly English-dominant. And because there are more Latinos being born in the United States than arriving from Latin America, we can expect to see a mostly English-dominant Latino population in just a short while.
Such trends underscore one important point that all networks must make note of: the tags “en Español” and “Latino” mean two very different things.
Spanish is the immigrant language of the Latino community, which is why most Latinos try to preserve their Spanish skills as a sort of homage to their immigrant forefathers. The same has been true of most immigrant experiences throughout much of American history, from Eastern Europeans to Italians and Jews — each has tried to maintain the language tradition of their homeland while assimilating to American culture.
If so-called “Latino programming” is meant to truly target a Latino audience, it should be in English mostly, if not entirely so. Otherwise the network comes off looking out of touch with what it means to be Latino in America. (Just ask any native born Latino how patronizing it feels to be spoken to in Spanish by a non-Latino.)
Some networks have apparently received the memo.
In October, media giants ABC News and Univision announced they were teaming up to provide programming in English to a Latino audience. Early in the year, Comcast revealed it too would be launching its own entertainment network, El Rey, in January 2014 offering English-language programming aimed at Latinos. (Comcast also owns NBCLatino, an English-language news site geared toward Latinos.)
While I salute CNN’s latest efforts to tap into the U.S. Latino market, over 52 million strong and counting, CNN Latino looks like it’s going to be too “en Español” and not “Latino” enough.
If media companies want to launch networks aimed at capturing Latino dollars, the programming on such networks should be in the language most Latinos use and will continue to use more frequently as time passes.
And believe it or not, America — Latinos speak English.
(Exhibit A: this article)