Julian Castro Proves The Time Is Right For An English-Language Latino Network, Says Journalist

Julian Castro at 2012 DNCPost by Cindy Casares:

Tuesday at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro received criticism from Republicans for not being Latino enough to speak Spanish like his Republican counterpart Florida Senator Marco Rubio. But Time magazine’s Tim Padgett says the wonder twin (Castro’s twin brother Joaquin is a candidate for U.S. Representative), is a harbinger of the future. Or, actually, the present.

[W]hile the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio represents perhaps the most coveted bloc of swing voters in this presidential election, there’s one thing about the Stanford- and Harvard-educated Castro that might seem counterintuitive to non-Latinos: He doesn’t speak Spanish.

Of course, to Latinos this is no big deal. Almost two-thirds of Latinos living in the U.S. are either bilingual or English-dominant and 51% of Latinos born in the U.S. are now English-dominant. Plus, immigration has slowed and the birth rate has outgrown the immigration rate for this group.

How does this make the time right for an English-language television network for Latinos? Why not just assimilate them into mainstream media? Well, while Latinos enjoy English-language programming, a study by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that there is still a strong desire by most Latinos to include Spanish in daily life.

[W]hile English use among Latinos is higher in later generations and Spanish use is lower, Spanish use persists among the third generation. In daily activities such as listening to music, watching television or even thinking, significant shares of third-generation Latinos use Spanish, the Pew Hispanic survey shows.

According to a 2009 Pew study, today’s young Hispanics are more encouraged to speak Spanish than their parents were. This recent trend seems to lie in the desire to maintain a connection to the culture of their ancestry.

The result is a group of later generation Latino-Americans (non-immigrants) who speak English better than they speak Spanish, but who still incorporate Spanish-language and Latin culture in their everyday lives. This, says Padgett, is why Univision and ABC got together to launch a much-touted English-language, 24-hour news network for Latinos.

“It could mark one of the biggest developments in Latino-oriented media since networks like Telemundo, CNN en Español and the Miami-based Univision (now the U.S.’s fourth largest network overall) began broadcasting in the late 1900s,” says Padgett. “That’s especially true given the distribution muscle of the Disney corporation, which owns ABC.”

The Univision-ABC venture will debut online next month—an English-language Tumblr has already been online for most of this year—and plans to be on the air next summer with both news and lifestyle programming.