Telemundo and its Glendale-based flagship station, KVEA-TV Channel 52, will announce a major prime-time programming shake-up next month designed to make the network and its affiliates more competitive with Univision, the dominant force in Spanish-language broadcasting in the United States.
Nationally, Telemundo stations will move their local newscasts up an hour to 10 p.m. beginning Aug. 11, positioning them as the earliest nightly Spanish-language news in most markets. “CBS Telenoticias,” the network’s national news program, will follow at 10:30.
KVEA hopes the changes will reverse recent trends that show the station trailing badly in the local ratings. KVEA has long attracted just a fraction of the audience Univision affiliate KMEX-TV Channel 34 draws but recently has also slipped behind Spanish-language independent KWHY-TV Channel 22, whose 5-month-old 10:30 p.m. newscast draws about 25% more viewers than KVEA’s nightly program. KMEX’s late news airs at 11 p.m.
Telemundo hopes to give local newscasts an additional boost by switching from the current telenovelas (soap operas) to movies from 8 to 10 p.m.
Locally, KVEA station manager Eddie Dominguez and news director Juan Carlos Aviles are overhauling both the prime-time newscast and the 6 p.m. show by replacing anchors, creating new beats and adding interactive elements they hope will make the station more responsive to viewers.
“The whole show is going to have a community outreach feeling to it,” says Aviles. “It’s going to be a whole new philosophy.”
Jose A. Ronstadt, producer of KVEA’s morning show “Hola Los Angeles” and a veteran of more than 20 years in broadcast journalism, will anchor the revamped newscasts, replacing Sergio Urquidi and Teresa Quevedo, whose contracts will not be renewed. Other new touches will include a consumer advocate, regular features aimed at the Gen-X crowd and a beat reporter dedicated to Southern California’s burgeoning Central American population.
But the most unusual feature of the newscast will be the interactive element. After many stories, viewers will be provided with a phone number to call for additional information or simply to express their opinions about what they’ve just seen.
“This is about being responsive to the audience needs. That’s the key,” says Dominguez. “In order to better do that, we need better communication with our audience. And I think finding out what the audience wants makes us much more responsive.”