TBN Enlace USA Brings Quality Faith-Based Television to the Hispanic Community
By Dave Bohon, WDC Media News.
Cesar Espanol knows all about Hispanics being the largest minority group in the nation, and how they now comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. Furthermore, he’s something of an authority on where those more than 50 million Latinos are concentrated around the nation. As U.S. Director of TBN’s faith-based 24-hour Hispanic television network, TBN Enlace USA, he keeps a steady hand on the pulse of Hispanic demographics in America.
What really motivates Espanol is what he has found out about the Hispanic faith community. “They’re passionate, they’re committed to their faith, they’re a huge section of the Hispanic population, and they absolutely love Christian television,” he said. “When you think of the Hispanic community, you usually think of Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, all the big cities. And make no mistake, those are major, major Latino populations. But there are hundreds of smaller cities all over the nation that have significant Hispanic communities, and Christian viewers are alive and well there, too.”
Research shows that the stereotype of the deeply religious Catholic Hispanic is being replaced by a much broader faith picture. Christian pollster George Barna notes, for instance, that in 1990 almost two-thirds of Hispanic adults in the U.S. identified themselves as Catholic. By 1990, that number had fallen to 49 percent.
More important to Cesar Espanol, however, is this finding from Barna: 91 percent of Hispanic adults say that their faith is an important part of their life. “That tells me that an overwhelming majority of Hispanics in the U.S. are searching for more meaning, more fulfillment,” he said. “Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Baptist, whatever, Hispanics are looking for a richer spiritual purpose and they want more faith-based programming targeted specifically to their culture.”
That is exactly what TBN Enlace USA provides. Launched by flagship network TBN in 2002, this 24-hour all Hispanic Christian network features a unique combination of the best inspirational programs from Latin America and the most popular programs from TBN. It also includes inspirational church services from the most dynamic Hispanic churches in Latin America and the U.S., popular music videos, informative talk shows, entertaining children’s programs, and cutting-edge shows for teens and young adults.
“The majority of the programs on TBN Enlace are produced in Latin America because Hispanics really connect with programs tied directly to their culture and where they’re from,” explained Espanol. “That’s particularly true in their faith, something that is deeply personal to them.”
One thing Espanol is particularly proud of is Enlace Juvenil for teens and young adults, “There’s so much out on cable that is just not healthy for our youth, that emphasizes all the wrong things in our culture,” he said. “Enlace Juvenil really counters that with top-notch contemporary music and programs that will inspire and challenge young people while still keeping them entertained.”
TBN Enlace also broadcasts special events of interest to the Latino faith community. “We just did a live uplink from TBN's 2,500 seat church auditorium in Dallas featuring Cash Luna, one of the most popular evangelist in Latin America,” said Espanol. “The response from our viewers to these kinds of programs has been tremendous.”
Susan Zahn, an expert in faith-based media and president of the Christian public relations firm WDC Media, said TBN Enlace is just one example of how TBN has stepped forward to fill a need in cable television. “Cable TV is all about meeting a need for a specific viewership,” she said. “Obviously, with Hispanics being the largest ethnic minority in the nation, there’s a huge opportunity for a quality faith-based network. And who better to meet that need than TBN itself, the largest faith-based broadcasting network in the world. They have the resources, they have the vision, and they’ve done a great job.”
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