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New affiliates add Puerto Rican flavor to TV network fare
LKK Group invests in Aguadilla tower sites and satellite facilities
By LORELEI ALBANESE
May 27, 2005
By July, most consumers of cable and satellite TV in Puerto Rico will view major network programming through new station affiliates of ABC, CBS, and WB/UPN, a combination of Warner Bros. and UPN (United Paramount Network) cable networks.
Both the WPRU-TV (ABC) and WSJP-TV (WB/UPN) are considered local affiliates because their transmitting facilities are in Aguadilla and they broadcast local programming. WPRU-TV is broadcasting local news briefs. The CBS affiliate WVXF-TV is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
Storefront Television, a subsidiary of Virgin Islands broadcaster LKK Group, invested about $850,000 in tower sites and satellite facilities in Aguadilla and plans to sink another $500,000 in San Juan facilities, including a small studio to do a local news broadcast, said Keith Bass, president of LKK Group. Puerto Rico will receive the ABC and WB/UPN feeds from Los Angeles, home of LKK and Bass. He figures about $2 million was spent in equipment for the California offices. Although the company takes the signal for the network programming from New York, the syndicated and local programming are inserted in Los Angeles.
Since cable is a niche area, Bass projects advertising revenue of $3 million the first year. The cable market is estimated at roughly $30 million a year.
The change in network affiliates bodes well for Puerto Ricos cable and satellite viewers because the new local stations plan to put Spanish-language fare on the menu. In addition to airing more Spanish-language commercials, the stations plan to expand local programming by selling airtime to local producers, said Mike Santín, general sales manager who also is developing the local market for content.
"We now have a lot of flexibility during daytime hours," he said. On the Good Morning America show, for instance, a local ABC affiliate has two five-minute breaks for local news. When the network breaks away to its affiliates, Puerto Rico news items are aired over WPRU-TV.
"Our goal is to provide our audience with locally produced quality shows, and were open to proposals," Santín said.
Another benefit of the change is the rights to popular events, such as the Grammy Awards or Super Bowl broadcasts, are assigned to the local affiliate. Before the change, there was no affiliate in the local market, so these rights were sold. That is why the NBA games and playoffs this season are broadcast over Channel 13. You will be able to catch the next season on WPRU-TV, Santín said.
In December, Storefront Television announced the change of TV affiliates to be in effect by the end of January. However, the complexity of putting together satellite and cable contracts, plus the legal issue over whether Puerto Rico is considered "domestic" or "international," delayed the launch, Bass said.
Last week, Adelphia cable subscribers began to receive the ABC and CBS feed from Storefront and will be able to access WB/UPN programming beginning June 1. The staggered replacement of affiliates to satellite and cable providers will be completed in July, with the exception of Liberty Cable subscribers.
Noncable TV viewers in western Puerto Rico will be able to pick up the network programming from Aguadilla, if they have a roof antennae. The affiliates numbers are (ABC) Channel 20 and (WB/UPN) Channel 30.
Two Spanish-language soap operas are being aired over WB/UPN: Siete veces amada and Pedro el escamoso. The long-running family drama 7th Heaven can also be seen over WB/UPN.
Among the favorites broadcast over the ABC affiliate are Desperate Housewives, Wonderful World of Disney, Oprah Winfrey Show, Extreme Makeover, Lost, and 20/20. Responding to popular demand, Oprah is programmed for 7 p.m. instead of the usual afternoon slot aired by stateside stations, Santín said.
Storefront Television is a subsidiary of Virgin Islands broadcasting company, LKK Group Inc., owner and operator of the CBS affiliate television station WVXF and NBC affiliate WVGN out of St. Thomas, USVI.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.