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TMCNet:  The Charlotte Observer Mark Washburn column

[February 01, 2013]

The Charlotte Observer Mark Washburn column

Feb 01, 2013 (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Norberto Sanchez, who owns a group of Spanish-language radio stations, says he is in talks to acquire a low-power TV frequency that would become Charlotte's first Hispanic television station.

Sanchez's Norsan Media Group already controls three radio stations and the Hispanic weekly newspaper Hola Noticias in Charlotte.

"All that we're missing is the TV component to close out the 360-degree approach," says Sanchez.

Sanchez is CEO of Norsan Media, which operates media properties in the Southeast from its headquarters on East Independence Boulevard.

Sanchez says Norsan is examining two low-power, UHF frequencies in Charlotte that could carry the station. He expects to announce details of the venture within two months.

Low-power TV stations were authorized by the FCC Communication Commission in the 1980s to serve as small-area broadcasters or carry booster signals for distant stations. Typically, they have a reach of about 20 miles, depending on power.

Sanchez says he realizes the Hispanic market in Charlotte is not large enough to justify the investment in a full-power station, but hopes that a low-power one would be picked up by providers like Time Warner Cable or DirectTV.

Local content crucial Federal regulations do not require cable or satellite services to add low-power stations, but Sanchez believes he would be able to make a case to providers to pick up the broadcasts to serve the local community.

Key to that strategy, he says, would be providing local Spanish programming that viewers couldn't get elsewhere. Sanchez also says he is exploring affiliation with one of the nation's Hispanic networks like Telemundo.

Sanchez says he would leverage his assets in Charlotte through his radio stations, newspaper and the company's alliance with WBTV (Channel 3) to provide local news and entertainment.

Charlotte's Hispanic population percentage has nearly doubled over the last decade to 13 percent. According to census estimates, Hispanics in Charlotte total about 96,000 people, more than the total population of Asheville.

He would not say which low-power channels the company is examining, but two likely candidates are Channel 16, licensed to Regal Media of New York, and Channel 25, which is licensed to Word of God Fellowship in Bedford, Texas.

In Charlotte, Norsan Media operates WOLS-FM ("La Raza" 106.1), WRML-FM ("Latina" 102.3) and WGSP-AM ("Pepe" 1016, 1310).

Norsan Media is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Norsan Group, which operates restaurants and a meat-packing and distribution plant.

Washburn: 704-358-5007.

___ (c)2013 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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