Cristina Saralegui Receives Award; Discusses Future of Hispanic TV

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Cristina Saralegui, the Cuban-born journalist-turned TV personality and businesswoman on Thursday received the 2007 Lifetime Achievement in Hispanic Television for her leadership role as pioneer of Hispanic TV in the U.S.

During the closing luncheon of the fifth annual Hispanic TV Summit (Oct.3-4) in New York City, the longtime Univision anchor and creator of El Show de Cristina received the award from Larry Dunn, publisher of Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable. Accompanied by her husband and business partner Marcos Avila and a group of Univision executives, Saralegui gave a brief speech informing the audience about her newest role: grandmother.

Past recipients of the award include Sabado Gigante host Don Francisco; sportscaster and soccer commentator Andres Cantor; and Maria Celeste Arraras, the Emmy-winning host of Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste.

Saralegui’s weekly hour-long show, which she executive produces, has run over 4,000 episodes in the past 18 years, reaching not only Hispanics in the U.S. but Spanish-language audiences all over the world. And although her journalistic background (in print and on TV) has been in the Spanish-language media, she is well aware of new trends and changing demographics, acknowledging that the media environment she grew up on and she has worked on for years, is very different from that of her children and her grandchildren.

“When we think of Hispanics, we don’t think Spanish-only; we think Spanish, English … Spanglish!” she said during her speech. This particular remark was significant because it comes from an influential personality at Univision, a network that until very recently had a strict Spanish-only policy. “This is something you don’t expect to hear from a Univision personality,” said Rosa Alonso, founder and CEO of MiApogeo.com, a soon-to-be-launched Web site catering to acculturated Hispanics. “But Cristina is a very smart woman and she knows her medium is not going to be her grandchildren’s medium,” added Alonso.

Besides here TV career, Saralegui has embraced several social causes. Along with her husband, she started “Arriba la Vida/Up with Life Foundation,” devoted to raise AIDS awareness and education among U.S. Hispanics. She has also received a special award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for her efforts in educating her viewers on gay and lesbian issues, a topic still taboo in many Spanish-language media outlets.

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