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Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2001

December 5, 2001

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— ABC has dropped the Spanish-language version of "World News Tonight," calling it an experiment that failed to attract viewers.

The translation for audiences in 33 major cities was available through the Secondary Audio Program channel, or SAP, a feature available on most stereo television sets.

It started in October 2000 and was abandoned Nov. 21, according to Jeffrey Schneider, ABC News vice president.

"We value our Hispanic viewers greatly and had high hopes that SAP would bring more viewers to 'World News Tonight.' At the end of the day, we saw no evidence that was the case," Schneider said Monday.

He said ABC News was disappointed the experiment didn't work. "We will continue to look for ways to report on issues of particular importance to Hispanic Americans," Schneider added.

Viewership for the translated newscast was difficult to measure; ABC relied on "anecdotal evidence," Schneider said. He was unaware of any viewer complaints after it was dropped.

No staff jobs will be affected by the change; four free-lancers had worked on the translated newscast with anchorman Peter Jennings.

Juan Moreno, entertainment editor for the New York-based Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario la Prensa, had expressed reservations about the service when it started.

"Latinos are used to receiving news a certain way," Moreno said Monday. "Just because the Anglo media all of a sudden is going to speak our language, it doesn't mean we're gonna tune into it."

Latino viewers have a "trust and confidence" in newscasts prepared by Spanish-language TV stations, and getting them to change their habits is more complex than offering a translation, he said.

Moreno called the ABC News effort "a good try. I think it's the wave of the future" considering the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the United States.

Neither NBC nor CBS offer Spanish-language versions of their nightly newscasts. CBS does offer "60 Minutes" in Spanish and is considering a translated version of "CBS Evening News."

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