Memphis’ Spanish-speaking community may have up to 50,000 members. Time-Warner Cable should provide this community with programming, if only because it makes good business sense.
The news that the local Spanish-language television station, UHF channel 31, is expanding its programming from one hour to six hours a day should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been aware of the rapid growth in Memphis’ Hispanic community over the past few years. Some estimates place this population at around 50,000, nearly ten percent of the population of the City of Memphis and just less than the population of the Nonconnah (Hickory Hill) area. It’s time this community received the local attention it deserves.
It has already drawn increased police attention. The core of the area’s Hispanic community, centered along Jackson Avenue between the Wolf River and Chelsea Avenue, has seen a dramatic increase in criminal activity, which has prompted increased patrols and the creation of a police mini-precinct in an apartment complex in the area. But the community also deserves more positive attention.
One way to provide this attention would be for Time-Warner Cable to provide Spanish-language programming. While the company does carry several premium channels with alternative audio tracks in Spanish, it does not carry programming from Telemundo or Univision, the two national Spanish-language networks, nor does it carry any Spanish-language stations originating from Los Angeles, New York or Miami. With its upgrades to fiber-optic cabling, the company should have the capacity to provide at least one channel of Spanish programming.
Contrary to the claims of many unfamiliar with Spanish-language stations, these channels promote integration with American society as a whole. Companies spend millions of dollars to promote American products through Spanish-language advertising. It is estimated that Spanish-speaking Americans contribute over $6 billion to America’s economy each year through buying goods and services. These stations also provide programming for Americans who are interested in soccer (probably the most widely-participated-in sport in the world) and English-speakers who are learning Spanish in school or for business reasons.
The evidence clearly shows that Spanish-speakers want to become part of American society and want their children to learn English. Spanish-language television promotes these goals while providing Hispanic-Americans with programming consistent with their interests and culture. It also makes good business sense for Time-Warner in the short run, and for all Memphians in the long run.