The Caliente Column

CMT: Now In Latin America
By Doug Shannon (tmaxgroup@yahoo.com)

With the help of new program manager Bobby Lopez, who was hired Aug. 28,
CMT Latin America plans to give MTV Latino a run for its money.

Lopez comes to CMT with 22 years of radio and television experience.
He most recently served as program director for KRIO "Mas Tejano" 94 in
San Antonio where he was named BILLBOARD magazine's 1994 Spanish medium-
market Radio Music Director of the Year.

"CMT was looking for someone who was knowledgeable in country and Spanish
music, and bilingual," Lopez said.

CMT currently broadcasts the same programming to the United States and
Latin America. But in January the Latin American channel will be
customized for Spanish-speaking audiences.

"It's going to be the best of country, the best of Latin America, and
there's going to be special block programming for the best of Tejano,"
Lopez said.

"I don't think I'll be playing the banda music. I think I'm just going
to pick the best from the best. You may see LUIS MIGUEL and GLORIA
ESTEFAN, and you'll definitely see RICK TREVINO and EMILIO, in Spanish,
of course.

"We're going to do same things that the domestic channel is doing.
When it says 'Big Ticket,' we'll change it to 'Boleto Grande.'
'Hot Shots' may stay the same, because from what I learned at the
CANITECH cable convention in Guadalajara, the Mexican people like to
know that they're watching some sort of American TV because it's hip to
do that."

Though most Tejano fans are in the U.S., Lopez said he believes it will
be a year and a half before the channel is offered by domestic cable
operators.

Video production quality is going to be a very important factor in
getting airplay, Lopez said.

"It may make some people mad," he said, "but it may make people realize
that there are some people who will not settle for mediocrity.

"The reason some labels haven't been putting out videos of high quality
is because they're only being shown on a couple of programs like 'Puro
Tejano' and 'Tejano Country' and you see them over and over again.

"If they want their artists to reach further into the Hispanic market
and internationally, then they're going to have to compete with the
big boys."

The network's biggest challenge may be overcoming the apprehension of
cable operators in central and southern Mexico, where there isn't much
familiarity with country.

The channel is also distributed in Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil,
whose programming will obviously be in Portuguese.

Lopez is currently busy looking for a programming scheduler and
programming coordinator. He hopes to have his staff in place by
November.

He's based in Nashville for now but may move his office to San Antonio
after a few years, he said.

Lopez is also a regular contributor to Tejano City News, and he said
being in Nashville would help him report the latest on Emilio and other
Tejano/country talents.