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One year after debut, CNN Latino to close down

TAMPA — One year after its debut in Tampa and nationwide, CNN Latino is shutting down.

The ambitious Spanish-language programming block, a CNN-affiliated gamble at winning America's flourishing Hispanic market, will end later this month.

The network said in a statement Wednesday that CNN Latino "was not able to fulfill our business expectations." It's unclear how many will lose their jobs.

The Tampa affiliate launched from a small, $1.2 million Tampa Heights studio last spring with 25 employees and locally produced news, cooking and entertainment shows.

It contributed to and pulled from CNN Latino's eight-hour nationally syndicated broadcast, which also opened local affiliates in Orlando, Miami, New York and Los Angeles.

It aimed not just to compete financially with Spanish juggernauts Telemundo and Univision, but culturally, with the soppy soap operas and dopey slapstick of Miami's Spanish-TV-dominating telenovela factories.

“Game shows, people fighting on TV: We are not into that," said Marlen Abrahantes, who ran CNN Latino's Tampa station, late last year. "We are more into things that Latinos want to know."

The network seemed to acknowledge the vastness of the task; its slogan is "Todo es posible" — "Anything is possible." Locally, the block aired on Ch. 30 on Verizon FiOS, but struggled to win placement with Bright House and other cable providers.

Rumors swirled last year that the Tampa affiliate, funded in part by the heir of what was once one of Ecuador's most prominent business families, would move into downtown Tampa's long-vacant Kress department store. The building's owner last year denied she ever met with station leaders and the plan went nowhere.

With 220,000 Hispanic TV-owning households, Tampa Bay is the 19th-largest Hispanic media market in America. Last year, a third of the 200,000 Hillsborough County students were Hispanic.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

One year after debut, CNN Latino to close down 02/06/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:00pm]
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