Mexican Groups Send Message to Miami Cuban Cultural Dictaroship
Jose G. Perez
jg_perez at SPAMbellsouth.net
Thu Oct 5 21:35:29 MDT 2000
I'd say you're LARGELY right on this, but it is a little more
And although people like the Estefans are the ones who show their faces,
usually they do so as front men for big capitalist groups. It is also not
unusual for the "fronts" to be taking their backers for a ride.
For example, The actual control of the main Spanish language network,
Univision, is in the hands of the Mexican monopoly Televisa. When they took
over 2 or 3 years ago, they moved the network's newscasts, etc., back to
Miami where they had originally been, removing them from Los Angeles where
new studios had been built a couple of years before. Univision had
originally been the Miami-based Spanish International Network, SIN, which
was a latch-up between Televisa and this Miami group, although I don't know
the ownership structure. They ran Jacobo Zabludovsky's mexican newscast "24
horas" as their newscast into the 1980s. They made a killing and sold out in
the late 80s or early 90s, and those new owners changed the name to
Univision and were the ones oriented towards the Mexican and Central
American hispanics who made Univision into the absolutely dominant force it
is today. They eventually sold it to the current owners.
Technically, some guy in L.A. is the majority owner, but the only people
who even claim to be fooled by this is the Federal Communications
Commission, as TV networks and stations aren't supposed to be controlled by
foreign interests, not in the United States, at any rate. The way the deal
actually works is that the L.A. guy gets to buy from Televisa the bulk of
the programming, thus accomplishing through transfer prices what would
normally be accomplished through stock ownership, the return of profits to
the mothership. And, of course, Televisa controls the programming because it
Televisa is quite right-wing, and ideologically a shift back to Miami
was fine by them.
Another important group in continental Spanish-language broadcasting is
Venevisión, i.e., the Cisneros mafia. The Cisneros are of Cuban origin and
recently moved their world headquarters to Miami, where they belong, no
longer feeling at home in Venezuela. I think Cisneros is also a partner in
the Univision setup, but am not sure.
Cisneros seems particularly adept at suckering in clueless American
companies with promises of gold in Latin America. Thus Time Warner's HBO
basically lets them run HBO Latin America, which is miserable, in some form
of joint enterprise, and AOL pretty much the same.
AOL Latin America has been a particularly resounding fiasco. Their first
launch was in Brasil, where they faithfully tried to follow the U.S. model
of carpet-bombing the country with free-month and then three free months
CD's. People who've seen it tell me it is quite the same as the American
original, i.e., totally foreign. Last I heard they'd gotten 50,000 members.
AOL México and Argentina have also launched, and just as cluelessly. At
launch the most prominent thing on their web page was Love at AOL and and
their "free" offer. Over at Terra.com.ar (the ISP of the Spanish Telefónica
monopoly), the most prominent thing on their home page was some Boca Juniors
(football) game or controversy.
For the past few years this idea that Miami is the cultural capital of
Latin America has been sold assidiously by hucksters of various stripes, and
in 1999 and early 2000 countless Hispanic "dot coms" were set up in the
Miami area, many of which are now, thankfully, going belly-up (with their
just-as-worthless American counterparts).
For my money, the better sites are those from Argentina, (the
terra.com.ar technology page is just about the only place in the world you
can reliably find information on what is going on in the Napster case), the
Miami ones usually reek of what I'll call "gringoness" for lack of a better
The Latin Grammies were a joint operation by the RIAA "big five" record
companies, the ones trying to shut down Napster, and the Miami "latin music"
mafia around the Estefans. It was held in Los Angeles only because, with the
boom in (real) Cuban music, they could not avoid including it, and thus it
became impossible to hold the event in the Miami area, where (real) Cuban
music is cassus belli for the (rest of the) right-wing gusano mafia.
The other Spanish-language TV network in the U.S. for a long time was
controlled by the Reliance insurance group, a guy named Sol Steinberg if I
remember right. They got sold the bullshit line of the boom in the Hispanic
markets in the late 1980s, tremendously overpaid, and were in and out of
bankruptcy court for years. They always operated on the theory that it was
totally unnecessary for those running the network to actually speak Spanish
or anything else like that --or even have much experience in the TV
business-- and their ratings show it. They were the ones behind the
"Telenoticias" news network to Latin America which, after a couple of
changes in ownership, finally went under a few months ago, was re-bought by
Telemundo, and relaunched as a "news and reality TV and talk show" network,
i.e., a dump for all of Telemundo's non-telenovela programming. These
programs are poor copies of Univision's poor copies of the worst programming
on American TV. You do not get much lower than this.
In addition, about Telemundo, for a few years their national news was
provided by CNN (this was the original group of what eventually became
today's CNN en Español network). Around 1993, this was taken over by a
largely Cuban-dominated group which set up Telenoticias in some weird
five-wheeled contraption of a partnership with Reuters and some Spaniards
and some Venezuelans and which, effectively, left control of the thing in
the hands of the local (Cuban) management, which ran it into the ground.
Actually, it took no particular talent to run Telenoticias into the
ground as the market (a few million cable and satellite homes) was too small
to support the kind of operation they were running. To make double-sure a
couple of (anglo) former CNN execs somehow talked NBC into starting a
Spanish-language news channel based --of all places-- in Charlotte. Go
figure. That one went dark early in 1997 as the CNN Spanish channel was
being launched, basically because they were losing cable affiliates to the
new Turner channel and to Telenoticias.
In addition to CNN en Español, Turner (i.e., Time-Warner, soon to be
swallowed by AOL), has a bunch of Latin American clones of its u.s.
channels, TNT Latin America and Cartoon Network. Other U.S. based groups,
like Disney and Fox, also follow the same strategy, sometimes in partnership
with someone else (like Cisneros), sometimes alone.
Basically, a lot of anglo companies have rather cluelessly been mucking
about in Spanish-language news and entertainment markets here and in Latin
America, often suckered by joint venture partners and others. Often they let
some "Latino" hot shot from Miami run the show, but the truth is that, so
far, the potential advertising and subscription base for these offerings is
too thin and the Latin American countries too varied to enable anyone to get
much traction. The exceptions are the turner cartoon and movie franchises,
because they rely on existing product, and the Fox sports franchises, which
use a similar model.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tony Abdo" <aabdo at webtv.net>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Cc: <josecaba at coqui.net>; <manu at acabtu.com.mx>; "Martin Javier Oviedo
Hernandez" <martoh at bital.com.mx>; <militante at iname.com>;
<chickpea_ at hotmail.com>; <rodtruji49 at hotmail.com>;
<editors at texasobserver.org>; <keith_v at yahoo.com>; <zapata at sezampro.yu>;
<TexasDiscussionComm at egroups.com>
Sent: Friday, September 29, 2000 11:20 PM
Subject: Mexican Groups Send Message to Miami Cuban Cultural Dictaroship
The Cultural War between the US Hispanic communities flared up today, as
three Mexican music groups refused to accept their awards from the first
ever Latin Grammy awards, held Sept.13. Cuban-American dominance
over US Hispanic cultural channels, TV programming and musical
recording especially, has often reduced the input of other US Hispanic
voices, to second class status.
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