The Boston area’s Hispanic population has long suffered from an identity crisis of sorts, with most local television media failing to acknowledge its existence.
Media attention and programming for the fast-growing local Spanish-speaking community may finally make strides, though, as the reality of the Hispanic market becomes too powerful to ignore. It seems like an unstoppable trend nationally, as advertisers catch on to the buying power of the country’s 53 million Latinos, valued at $1.2 trillion in spending annually.
Following that demographic trend, the US Spanish-speaking TV advertising market continues to grow. According to Kantar Media, while ABC, CBS, and NBC saw their total ad revenue fall in the last couple of years, Spanish-language TV ad spending rose 2.9 percent last year.
Yet Boston, for all its progressive politics, has a stodgy TV market. While the local Hispanic population grew 67 percent between 2000 and 2011, Latino programming failed to expand. Local TV’s efforts to reach Latinos have been nibbling around the edges for years: “Centro,” a 5-minute segment that airs Saturday mornings on CBS affiliate WBZ-TV Channel 4; and “Revista Hispana,” a half-hour Sunday show broadcast once a month on WHDH-TV Channel 7, the NBC affiliate in Boston, remain the only Latino-focused network offerings. Meanwhile, WGBH Boston has suspended production of “La Plaza,” one of the country’s longest running television series devoted to Latino issues.
As someone who has worked in Latino media for the past 10 years, I have witnessed cities, towns, and neighborhoods undergo dramatic demographic transformations. East Boston is well established as the city’s de facto Hispanic enclave: 53 percent of its residents identify as Latino. Any given day as you walk through Maverick Square with its Latino panaderías and restaurants, the plaza buzzes with the sounds of Spanish. Up north in Revere, the Latino population grew 182 percent in the last decade.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week