Despite earning sky-high ratings that surpass competitors Telemundo, Univision, UniMas, and nearly all others in the Spanish-language television space, minority-owned Estrella TV will be forced off the air by cable industry giant Comcast in three major U.S. cities effective Feb. 19.
Comcast’s decision to force Estrella TV off the air in its Houston, Denver, and Salt Lake City systems comes as Comcast’s own Spanish-language network, Telemundo, has seen a growing percentage of its viewership change the channel in favor of Estrella TV. In the media markets where Comcast is forcing the network off its systems, Estrella TV ranks as the number one Spanish network in Salt Lake City beating Univision; number two in Denver beating Telemundo; and number three in Houston beating UniMas. In the Los Angeles media market, Estrella TV is outpacing giant rivals Telemundo and UniMas combined viewership and beats Univision in primetime hours.
“This has been a real-life David versus Goliath battle, with our minority-owned company fighting one of the largest companies in America, and armed with a simple message: let the people watch what they want to watch,” said Estrella TV Founder and ChairmanJose Liberman. “With Estrella TV now surpassing Telemundo in the Los Angeles market and elsewhere, it is troubling to see Comcast act irresponsibly by putting its own self-serving business interests ahead of a small minority-owned company, and ahead of Comcast’s Hispanic customers.”
In response to Comcast’s actions, Estrella TV has launched a campaign to educate its supporters about the loss of programming choice for Spanish-speaking viewers, and the real reasons behind Comcast’s decision to force Estrella TV off its systems. Estrella TV’s campaign will reach hundreds of thousands of Hispanic viewers in Denver and Salt Lake City, and more than two million Hispanic viewers in the greater Houston area through its sister Spanish-language radio stations in those markets. The campaign is also utilizing social media channels to reach Hispanic audiences, encouraging them to contact Comcast to demand that Estrella TV remain on its cable line-up in Houston, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
Notable Hispanic entertainment stars have rallied to support Estrella TV in its efforts to put pressure on Comcast to extend the network’s carriage, and are participating in the massive education campaign. Popular personalities including Don Cheto, Noel Torres, Tucanes de Tijuana, Arrolladora Banda El Limon, Luis Coronel, Enrique Gratas, Myrka Dellanos, Julion Alvarez, Banda los Recoditos, and Kevin Ortiz have all joined the education campaign, “No Pierdas Estrella TV,” to rally to keep Estrella TV on air.
“I’m calling on Estrella TV viewers across the country to join us in demanding that Comcast carry our network to give Hispanics what they want, which is to keep the programming they love on the air, and that means keeping Estrella TV on air,” said Enrique Gratas, award-winning journalist and host of ‘Noticiero con Enrique Gratas’ on Estrella TV. “Hispanic viewers that love the popular programming Estrella TV provides should join me in contacting Comcast to demand that they keep Estrella TV on the air. Let’s ensure that Comcast, which has an unfortunate reputation with customer service as demonstrated in recent news headlines, hears us loud and clear.”
In addition to eliminating choice for Hispanic viewers, Comcast’s forcing Estrella TV off its systems will negatively impact the Hispanic-owned company and Hispanic communities across the country through the potential loss of middle class jobs (more than 90 percent of Estrella TV’s 1,000 employees in production are Hispanic). Estrella TV has attempted to negotiate with Comcast for a long-term carriage deal that would give it the financial stability to retain these middle class jobs as well as to ensure that Spanish-language broadcast viewers have a choice in programming so that the market isn’t dominated by foreign- and non-Hispanic-owned giant corporate entities like Telemundo and Univision. Estrella TV, owned by Mexican-Americans, has been a trusted and recognized name in Latino communities, and, through its original progamming, has launched the careers of many popular Spanish-language musicians topping the charts.
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