B&C/MCN's Multiethnic TV Leadership Awards: Celebrating On-Screen Diversity
Honoring the leaders who make TV reflect America
Honoring the leaders who make TV reflect America
Multiethnic television has come a long way since the early
1990s, when Nielsen began measuring African-American and Hispanic-American audiences.
Today, the video content offerings available to appeal to a
particular ethnic audience, cultural group or nationality continue to grow-in
number and sophistication-thanks to a group of individuals that make this
The business of multiethnic television is getting its due
recognition this Wednesday (April 17) at the Hilton New York, when Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News will present the
first-ever Multiethnic TV Leadership Awards, honoring the very best in their
disciplines. The awards will be presented during a luncheon ceremony.
Eleven executives representing Condista, Comcast, Dish
Network, Fox Broadcasting, Fox Hispanic Media, Sesame Workshop, SMG/Tapestry,
Telemundo, TV One, Univision and Verizon Communications will be recognized.
These executives work across disciplines in the fields of
advertising, programming, marketing, digital and pay television and have been
named as the members of the first-ever class of winners of the Multiethnic TV
Judging was based on an independent scoring process by an
esteemed group of judges including Ruma Bose, an entrepreneur and author of the
best-selling book Mother Teresa: CEO;
Eduardo Caballero, founder and chairman of Caballero Spanish Media; Carmen
DiRienzo, who served as the founding president and CEO of Vme; and Ola
Mobolade, author of the book Marketing to
the New Majority; as well as a selection of editors from the presenting
Each judge received every qualified entry. Candidates were
nominated by their business associates and were submitted for specific
categories. Nearly 100 qualified entries were received. Four categories had the
greatest number of submissions. Judges scored a candidate based on a scale of
one to five. Those with the highest score per category were declared the
|| Michelle Rice
|| Alfredo Rodriguez
|| Emilio Romano
Branch-Ridley joined Sesame Workshop in 2008 as the broadband supervising
producer for The Electric Company,
and also more recently served as assistant vice president and supervising
producer of The Electric Company
Branch-Ridley boasts both a Daytime and Primetime Emmy Award. She won a daytime
award for The Electric Company's
website in the "New Approaches - Children's Entertainment" category. Her
primetime win came in 2005, while she was at TV Land, for "Outstanding
Achievement in Interactive Television" as executive producer for the 2005 TV
Land Awards online application.
Before shifting to digital, Erica spent almost 10 years in a range of roles in
the television industry, working for such companies as BET, CBS News and WNBC
in New York. One of her greatest accomplishments came at BET, where he created
and produced STORYPORCH, a children's
TV show based on the concept of multicultural children's books and the African
tradition of storytelling.
"It's important that we reflect the children who are watching," Branch-Ridley
said. "Making sure kids can see themselves on television is the most important
Solely focused on the digital side now, Branch-Ridley said she can't help but
be excited for what lies ahead. "There are just so many more opportunities for
content and so many more outlets," she said. "I just feel like advertisers are
putting more money into [more diverse programming] now."
Career Highlights: Broadband
supervising producer for The Electric
Company; assistant VP and supervising producer of The Electric Company Digital; executive producer and senior
director of TV Land Digital; senior producer for Nickelodeon Online; and
education content producer for The AT&T Learning Network.
↑ Back to top
Twenty-eight years--and several companies and career-shaping jobs--later,
Cartagena is back at Univision, this time as vice president for corporate
marketing, leading a team responsible for developing and implementing corporate
marketing strategies and creating proprietary research.
Since her hiring in April 2011, she has helped boost Univision's research to
better understand and serve U.S. Hispanics, including the all-too important and
often misunderstood group known as Hispanic millennials. Throughout her career,
Cartagena has led some of the most-successful launches in U.S. Hispanic
marketing. She was behind the conception, launch and development of TV Guide en Español and People en Español, still the most
successful Spanish-language magazine and one that continues to dominate the
Hispanic print market today.
Friends, colleagues and pretty much everyone in the Hispanic media world wastes
no time in bringing up Cartagena's expertise when questions arise about
understanding the market.
Ruth Gaviria, Univision's senior vice president of corporate marketing and a longtime
colleague and friend of Cartagena, has described her as, "Your first stop to
understanding Latino culture....[Cartagena] has taken it as her personal
mission to teach all of us what the potential of the Hispanic community is."
In 2012, Cartagena won the ADCOLOR Award for her achievements in helping
marketers and brands use innovative thinking, strategic partnerships and
content to expand into the Hispanic market.
Career Highlights: As a TV producer,
she coordinated crews covering Pope John Paul II's 1987 visit to Miami. She led
the creation and development of People en
Español. In March, released her second book: Latino Boom II: Catching the Biggest Demographic Wave Since the Baby
Boom, taking readers beyond the census numbers. Random House published her
first book in 2005.
↑ Back to top
He started out working in the mailroom of a Miami TV station before Hispanic
content was largely available to U.S. consumers. As more operators rolled out
Spanish-language packages, Fiterre found room for growth in that market. In
1999, he founded Condista, a Spanish-language programming aggregator
representing 18 Spanish-language networks, including Canal Sur, Telefe and
"It was going to be the distribution [company] of the Hispanic world,"
Fiterre said. "In other words, the Hispanic networks were finally going to get
a chance in the cable world."
Fiterre wants to give the Hispanic consumer a chance to see relevant,
culturally-inspired content. And as the business evolves into a TV Everywhere
model, Fiterre said Condista is also moving into that space, with plans to
expand video-on-demand in Latin America.
"We're looking at how our industry is changing," Fiterre said. "It's a little
bit scary, but at the same time, it's exciting."
His commitment to the Hispanic community extends far beyond providing it with
quality content. Fiterre has, for many years, been involved with the Kiwanis
Club of Little Havana, organizing Carnival Miami and street festival Calle
"Being a Cuban-American and being forced out of your country at a very young
age makes you want to keep those roots alive. And that's why I like doing what
I do every day," Fiterre said.
Career Highlights: Director,
business development, FPL Group (1986); manager, advertising, Adelphia
Communications (1990); founder/partner, Condista (1999).
↑ Back to top
A 14-year Fox veteran, Maney joined the company when Hispanic cable wasn't even
measured by Nielsen, but fell into the category of "other."
"I realized I had to be first an ambassador for media; preaching the value
of cable first and of Fox Deportes later," Maney said of his first days with
the division then known as Fox Sports Americas. Back then, he recalled, the
Hispanic sports channel had barely eight advertisers and reached fewer than 1
million Hispanic households. Under Maney's leadership, the network has grown
35-fold and now boasts 125 advertisers and more than 7 million Hispanic
A confident, passionate salesman, Maney was promoted to senior vice president
of sales in 2007. In 2009, he was tapped to head Fox Hispanic Media, leading an
advertising-sales team of more than 50 across Fox's four Hispanic networks: The
17-year-old Fox Deportes (previously known as Fox Sports en Español),
Utilísima, Nat Geo Mundo and the recently launched MundoFox, a joint venture
between Fox International Channels and Colombia's RCN Television Group.
Being non-Hispanic has never had a negative effect on his job, he said. In
fact, one of the best pieces of advice he ever received was from writer and
Hispanic marketing expert Isabel Valdez: "I wanted to learn Spanish, but she
told me, instead, to learn the 'culture' of Hispanics. 'We speak English, you
Using that knowledge -- and a heavy dose of charisma -- Maney quickly helped
secure some blue-chip advertisers for the recently launched MundoFox, which is
not even one year old and is still working on expanding coverage nationwide.
Career Highlights: From his start in
independent TV in the 1980s to cable in the '90s, Maney has helped take Fox
Deportes to the top of its league. Took a network with eight advertisers and 1
million households to one with 125 advertisers and 7 million households. As
head of Fox Hispanic Media, signed up Toyota, T-Mobile and L'Oreal to advertise
on MundoFox months before its August 2012 launch.
↑ Back to top
Last January, Mendiola was hired by Comcast to create a new division to serve
the multicultural audience, and so far, so good. "I believe that the public has
been very, very receptive of what we have been doing."
One of the unit's tasks was to create the first-ever Hispanic triple-play
package. In December, Comcast launched Xfinity Latino, which includes an
updated suite of video products and services developed exclusively to serve
Hispanic customers. Xfinity Latino added 10 new Hispanic channels and doubled
Comcast's amount of Hispanic on-demand content on TV and online.
Prior to joining Comcast, Mendiola was general manager of Latino programming
and Spanish business development for Dish Network. During his nine years there,
he is credited with spearheading the company's Spanish video content
initiatives. Perhaps his biggest achievement there was creating the Dish Latino
Going forward, Mendiola sees more of the same for Comcast. He says their main
focus will be to improve "all aspects of multiethnic offerings" which will
include the relaunch of several ethnically-targeted minisites.
"You're going to see us taking a more proactive and innovative way of serving
multicultural audiences," said Mendiola, who thinks of the new innovations as
the "2.0" of what Comcast already has. "I think multiethnic TV is coming of
Career Highlights: General manager
of Latino programming and Spanish business development for Dish Network; VP of
programming and operations at Fox Sports Latin America; programming director
for pay TV at Grupo Televisa.
↑ Back to top
Rice's tenacity with distributors led to a deal in August 2011 with Cablevision
Systems, which brought the network to the homes of its targeted audience in
Brooklyn, N.Y., and surrounding areas; as of August 2012, TV One is available
in 57 million homes.
Rice, who has been with TV One since its launch in January 2004, likens TV One
to the Geraldine Laybourne era of Nickelodeon, which set in motion social
change through television.
"[Working] with targeted networks, you have that opportunity," Rice said. "With
TV One, we're creating television that we hope will change some of the negative
perceptions and have social impact."
TV One is deeply involved in initiatives to connect with communities through
advocacy and education, something deeply ingrained in Rice.
Hailing from rural Mississippi, Rice's parents were active in the civil-rights
movement, and Rice's mother was a teacher. "Education ... is something that I
feel passionate about, and to be able to have that same relationship at work is
definitely rewarding," Rice said.
To ensure TV One's message is widespread, Rice is currently working on the
network's TV Everywhere model.
"We want to work with our distributions to meet both our audience and their
customers where they are," Rice said, "which is everywhere."
Career Highlights: Manager, special
markets, BET (1992-94); director, affiliate sales/special markets, NBC Cable
Networks (1994-2000); regional VP, Northeast, affiliate relations and national
accounts, In Demand (2001-03).
↑ Back to top
A native of New York, and a child of a Cuban father and a Mexican mother,
Rodriguez spent a great part of his career climbing the executive ladder at
multinational Philip Morris International, working in Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico
and Puerto Rico. He then moved to Molson Coors Brewing, where he led the
development and launch of the Coors Light "Cold-Activated" bottle in Puerto
Rico. The innovation was later adopted by the brewer's U.S. team and became a
cornerstone of the brand's successful repositioning.
Since joining Dish Network in 2010, RodrÃguez and his team have developed a
clearer understanding of the company's target consumer and his/her needs,
ultimately helping reposition the Dish Latino brand and developing a retention
strategy. Though the company declines to disclose specifics, Dish represents
one of the largest Hispanic advertising budgets in the country, according to Advertising Age's Hispanic Fact Pack.
Rodriguez said the company sees the value of its relatively large marketing
expenditures in a very measurable way: Net subscriber growth.
For example, the mix of Spanish- and English-language channels known as Dish
Latino is tops in the satellite-TV segment, though Rodriguez declined to
disclose specifics. "It has grown substantially, in the double digits, both in
sales and budgets," he said.
Under Rodriguez's leadership and in order to keep subscribers from defecting
after introductory offers expire, Dish Latino in 2011 added a retention
campaign to its acquisition messages. The pitch uses the tagline "me conviene,"
which Rodriguez said roughly translates to "it's in my best interest."
As a result, he said, subscriber defections, or churn, have been reduced to
levels not seen since 2007.
Career highlights: Developed
industry-first initiatives like FlexTV by DishLatino, the first brand extension
in the pay TV industry to focus primarily on a no commitment, no contract, no
↑ Back to top
His career spans the media, aviation and Internet industries, where he has held
multiple senior leadership positions over the past two decades; few in the
industry have cultivated the power of the multiethnic audience from as many
"I believe that more agencies and clients are realizing more and more that the
figures in the last Census are not just numbers," Romano said. "They are the
new reality in which we all live in America."
Romano touted the spending power of Hispanics, stating that it "tops the charts
at $1 trillion" and that he expects 50% growth over the next few years. "These
trends are not going to slow down and, as long as they continue, multiethnic
media will continue to thrive."
He guides Telemundo as it's the top producer of Spanish-language primetime
content in the U.S. Its original productions are distributed in more than 100
countries and dubbed into 35 languages.
On the heels of the company's best-ever quarter, Romano just wants to keep the
momentum going. "We plan to continue doing what we do best - invest in
producing high-quality original content and hiring the best on and off-air
talent available in the market," he said.
Career Highlights: President of
Telemundo Media; CEO of Grupo Mexicana de AviaciÃ³n; co-founded Border Group,
LLC; member, board of directors, Univision Communications; VP, international
operations, Grupo Televisa; director, mergers and acquisitions, Grupo Televisa.
↑ Back to top
The Buick-Eva Luna partnership is not
only one of the most sophisticated examples of brand integration at SMG, but
also one illustrative of the dramatic changes the media industry is undergoing
thanks to executives like Silkworth, who has been with Starcom MediaVest Group
for more than 15 years, holding positions in the U.S. and abroad.
A daughter of Cuban immigrants, Silkworth is fluent in English and Spanish,
something that has helped her understand the increasingly complex market she
While working on the General Motors account, she has helped transform the
automaker's approach to multicultural markets across its eight vehicle
divisions and more than 20 active brands. And while television has been her
main focus, she sees tremendous growth coming from the online world. "Research
shows that Spanish-language consumers are heavy adopters of new technology,"
Silkworth said. "As online content grows, we'll continue to see significant
advertising growth in this area."
Career Highlights: Created an
ahead-of-its-time online plan for the Oldsmobile Alero, circa 1998. Led team
that in May of 2012 empowered Univision to broker the first deal of all
networks during the 2011/2012 upfront season. The deal, whose terms were not
disclosed, was the largest single-agency upfront deal ever conducted by
Univision, and the first one to utilize a video neutral approach.
↑ Back to top
She was recruited in 2006 by Terry Denson, Verizon Communications' vice
president of content acquisition, to lead the creation and launch of the
telco's first local news channels and to head the company's overall
multicultural content strategy.
Under her leadership, Verizon has propelled multicultural programming to the
forefront of its content strategy, impacting the paradigm internally so that
"multicultural" is no longer thought of as niche programming but as a relevant
and important too to maintaining and growing its subscriber base.
In the summer of 2012, Webb led the way in the acquisition of more than 10
Spanish-language new high-definition channels for FiOS TV, which established it
as the provider with the most Spanish-language channels. Today, FiOS TV offers
two Spanish-language packages: La ConexiÃ³n, which offers more than 70
Spanish-language channels in addition to English channels, and the Spanish
Language Package, which offers nearly the same number of Spanish-language
As she continues to make multicultural programming a key initiative for FiOS
TV, new channel launches planned in the coming months.
Career Highlights: Emmy
Award-winning producer; worked as a producer for ABC News and CBS News' 60 Minutes; led Verizon in creating the
first owned-and-operated local-channel network, FiOS1. Will earn her executive
MBA from Columbia University in May.
↑ Back to top
The network now has 55 stations signed up, Wilson said, with companies such as
Belo, Fisher Communications and LIN Media on board.
"There are obviously some carriage deals that we're working through right now,
but that we were able to sign up that many that quick is a huge success,"
MundoFox's success in securing distribution points to Wilson's determination
and adaptability. Though she has spent her career learning the ins and outs of
distribution, Wilson had to start from square one when it came to MundoFox.
"I obviously didn't have any experience in Spanish-language," Wilson, a
Korean-American, said. "[I was excited] for the opportunity to learn the
Spanish-language business, which is so different from the general market."
Wilson contends she is always learning, with a job that "changes almost daily."
Her purview includes day-to-day operations, negotiating distribution
agreements, enforcing contractual commitments, program clearances, preemptions,
on-air/co-op promotion and managing all relations between FBC and domestic
broadcast television affiliates.
"Every day I deal with different executives, different divisions and different
stations across the country," Wilson said. "Our business has changed so much ...
It's never the same business year to year, much less day to day."
Career Highlights: Manager,
affiliate relations, Fox Sports (2001); director, network distribution, Fox
Broadcasting (2003); VP, network distribution, Fox Broadcasting (2005); senior
VP, broadcast distribution, Fox Broadcasting (2011).
↑ Back to top