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Ay Caramba!
Spanish-Language TV Just as Risqué as English-Language Fare

By Lucia Alzaga


America's greatest wealth is in its people. Since the arrival of the first colonists to the coast of Virginia in 1607 and the Pilgrims thirteen years later, Americans embraced immigrants from the most diverse cultural backgrounds. The assimilation process has not always been easy.  Integration into a new society continues to be a challenge, not only for the newcomers but also for the original habitants, but these challenges have in many ways made this country stronger.

During the last decade Hispanics have been the fastest growing ethnic/cultural group in America. As a matter of fact, in 2002, for the first time Hispanics surpass African-Americans as the nation's largest minority (38.8. million, or 12.5 percent of the population, compared with 38.3 million African-Americans or 12.3 percent.)[1] The use of the Spanish Language has been growing as well. While the Hispanic population grew 58 percent between 1990 and 2000, the number of Hispanics who speak Spanish grew 61 percent.[2]

This growth of the U.S. Hispanic population has not been ignored by companies and advertising agencies, who see Hispanic households not as a restricted niche anymore, but as an expansive market and source of important revenues. Between 1999 and 2002, the average income of U.S. Hispanic households increased 15.9 percent. According to Héctor Orci, CEO of La Agencia de Orci, a Hispanic advertising agency based in Los Angeles, disposable income among Hispanics living in the U.S. is larger than the gross national product of Spain or Mexico.[3] The impact of the expansion of the Hispanic population can also be understood by following the latest moves of the two larger Spanish-language networks in the U.S. In June 2002, giant Univision announced a deal to acquire Dallas-based Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, a powerful radio chain for

$3.5 million. Two months earlier, Univision's smaller rival Telemundo was bought by NBC for $2.7 billion.

Some observers consider that advertising firms are lagging in promoting on Spanish networks, but many of the country's top advertisers, including Sears, Hyundai, Allstate, and Colgate-Palmolive, realize the potential of the Latin market and are investing heavily in advertising on Telemundo and Univision.  Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation's research director, Jeff Williams, asserts that Spanish-dominant listeners tend to welcome ads in Spanish, whereas they don't perceive ads on English stations as targeted to them.[4] Coincidentally, Tom McGarrity, co-president of Network Sales for Univision Communications, states that recent Nielsen and Mad Logic research on the motivations, behaviors, and attitudes of U.S. Hispanics confirmed that "advertising to Hispanics in Spanish is more effective than in English due to the trust and respect communicated through the Spanish language." According to the studies, 52 percent of Hispanic viewers frequently obtain information for making purchase decisions from commercials on Spanish-language television.[5]  Moreover, Nielsen reports that half of Hispanic-American households prefer watching programs in Spanish.[6]

Hispanics reportedly also watch more television than the general population. According to Stacy Lynn Koerner, senior vice president at ad-buyer Initiative Media, Hispanics spend 58.6 hours a week watching television, 4.4 hours more than non-Hispanics.[7] Hispanics also account for 84 percent of the growth of total U.S. adults 18-34 and 18-49 (the demographic most coveted by networks and advertisers). Specifically, Nielsen estimates that Hispanics account for 18 percent of the 18-34 television audience, and 15 percent of the 18-49 viewers. Nielsen also recently found that over the past ten years adult audiences aged 18-49 watching primetime Spanish-language TV grew 107 percent, while young audiences ages 18-34, and teen audiences ages 12-17 grew 96 percent and 66 percent, respectively.[8]  These numbers demonstrate that the Hispanic population is younger than the population in general, and make up a large portion of the key demographics for networks and advertisers.

Consequently, the PTC has been sensitive to the growing presence and influence of Hispanics in this country. As a matter of fact, not only are many of our members Hispanic, but also several of our most active Grassroots chapters are located in metropolitan areas with large and strong communities of Hispanic heritage. As much as English-speaking parents have spoken up to complain about the state of general broadcasting, many of our members have raised their concerns about the questionable content both on Univision and Telemundo. Thus, responding to the latest demographic trends and the needs of our members, the PTC decided to conduct an exploratory survey of primetime TV on both of the primary Spanish-language networks to see what they have to offer to families of Hispanic ancestry in this country.

A Brief Description of Spanish-Language Programming

The purpose of this study is to survey what is offered to Hispanic families during prime time on the main Spanish-language networks, Univision and Telemundo.  Since the programming on both networks is substantially different from the shows on the six major U.S. broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN, and the WB); this study will avoid drawing comparisons between Spanish- and English-language networks. Having said this, aggregated data of English-language networks from recent PTC's released studies, will be utilized solely for the purpose of offering readers a point of reference.

The main difference between Spanish and English networks' primetime programming is the Spanish-language channels' heavy reliance on soap operas -- telenovelas - on weekdays. Both Univision and Telemundo dedicate the 8-9 p.m. and 9-10 p.m. time slots to telenovelas, rather than sitcoms or weekly dramas as is typical on English-language TV. 

Telenovelas are not exactly like soap operas seen on the American broadcast networks in the afternoons.  Telenovelas run from 13 to 29 weeks - sort of like an extended mini-series -- and therefore have a definite beginning, middle, and end, [9] unlike American soaps, which can run for decades (As the World Turns, for example, has been going since 1956).  Also unlike U.S. soap operas, telenovelas are often watched by the entire family. 

Univision seems to offer more traditional programming than Telemundo.  On weekdays, the 10-11 p.m. time slot is dedicated to general interest programs and talk shows, such as Cristina, Don Francisco Presenta, or Ver para Creer, while weekend programming is typically comprised of variety shows (Sábado Gigante) and sketch-format comedy shows (Los Metiches, Cero en Conducta, La Hora Pico). These shows are similar in format to programs that have been popular for years in many Latin American countries.

With the exception of telenovelas, Telemundo's programming more closely resembles that of English-language networks. Not only does Telemundo air American dubbed shows such as Guinness Records, Ripley's, and American theatrical releases,[10] it also airs reality shows such as Protagonistas de Novela 2.

Telemundo's telenovelas are less traditional than Univision's. Los Teens is very much akin to Beverly Hills 90210 or Fox's current hit The OC, and Ladrón de Corazones, a Mexican production, blends elements of romance and police thrillers not commonly observed in the genre of the Latin American telenovela.


The PTC examined three weeks (June 3rd through June 23rd, 2003) of prime time programming (8-11 p.m.) on commercial Spanish-language networks, Univision and Telemundo. The study period comprised 99 separate shows for a total of 104 hours of programming. Only made-for-TV programming was included. Analysts concerned themselves with vulgar language, sexual material, and violence.

In the foul language category, we did not keep track of "religious" words (i.e. "infierno," "maldito"), or terms such as "bastardo," since they are not considered offensive in most Spanish-speaking countries. We did count words considered obscene such as "culo" or "carajo." (A complete list of the profanities tracked and how often they were used is in the Appendix.)

The sex category was divided into two parts: sexual innuendo and graphic sex. The violence category was also subdivided into two categories: depicted violence and implied violence/graphic descriptions.  The distinction between discussed and graphic treatment of sex and violence is relevant because numerous studies on media effects have shown that graphic depictions of both sex and violence have greater impact on viewers' behaviors than mere talk about or discussions of sex and violence.[11] [12]


  • Both Univision and Telemundo are substantially less violent than English-language networks.  Univision featured 1.31 instances of violence per hour, while Telemundo featured 1.81 instances per hour. (For reference, in the Special Report TV Bloodbath, the PTC documented a per-hour average of 4.56 instances of violence during prime time on the six major broadcast networks.)

  • Sexual content in both networks is comparable to that of English-language networks. Univision included 4.34 sexual references per hour, while Telemundo 3.74. (For reference, in the Special Report Sex Loses its Appeal, the PTC documented an average of 4.59 instances of sexual content per hour during prime time on the six major broadcast networks.)

  • There is significantly less foul language on Spanish-language television during prime time than on its English-language counterparts. Univision registered 0.41 profanities per hour, while Telemundo's programming averaged only 0.32. (The PTC documented an average of 6.62 instances of foul language per hour on the six broadcast networks during the prime time in The Blue Tube.)

Other Findings:

  • Of the two Spanish-language networks, Univision had the highest levels of foul language and sexual content while Telemundo had the most violent programming.

  • The 10-11 p.m. time slot on Univision contained the most violence, with 2.06 violent instances per hour. On Telemundo, the 9-10 p.m. time slot contained the most violence (3.83 instances per hour).

  • Special multi-hour programs like Sábado Gigante, which runs from 8-11 p.m., contained the highest levels of sexual content on Univision.  Such programs averaged 9.11 instances of sexual content per hour.  On Telemundo, the 8-9 p.m. Family Hour had the highest levels of sexual content, with 6.58 instances of sex per hour.

  • The 8-9 p.m. Family Hour on Univision contained the highest levels of foul language, an average of one profanity per hour.  Overall, Telemundo had far fewer profanities, and such language occurred with the greatest frequency (0.54 instances per hour) during the 10-11 p.m. timeslot.

  • The highest levels of sexual content occurred on the popular variety show Sábado Gigante on Univision, and the adolescent-oriented telenovela Los Teens on Telemundo.



Time slots



Average Obscenities


Average sex


Average Violence

8-9 p.m.
























Spec. (8-11)

















Compared to English-language networks, Univision contains very little violence.  During the study period, the PTC counted 80 instances of violence, for a rate of 1.31 instances of violence per hour.  By contrast, NBC, the least violent U.S broadcast network, still contained higher levels of violence, with 1.8 instances of violence per hour throughout prime time.[13]

Univision airs two soap operas Monday through Friday and the genre, quite traditional, doesn't favor violent storylines. It's important to mention that this study covered three of the last four weeks of the telenovela Entre el Amor y el Odio. These episodes weren't particularly violent or racy. However, one episode included in this study featured the stabbing and death of a character called Gabriel, an incident that was very gory and graphic. A character called Fuensanta is ambushed by a bunch of thugs in the street. Gabriel runs to help her and ends up being stabbed.  He agonizes and bleeds to death in the middle of the street. He dies surrounded by his relatives and the horrified neighbors waiting for the ambulance to arrive.  The event runs throughout the entire episode, with sporadic breaks to some other events that take place simultaneously.

The highest levels of violence to be seen on Univision occured during the 10-11 p.m. time slot, with a rate of 2.06 violent incidents per hour. (For purposes of comparison, ABC was the least violent U.S. broadcast network during that time slot, with three instances of violence per hour.)[14] The most violent program was Casos de la Vida Real, which airs twice a week and features reenactments of real-life stories that usually end tragically.

On June 6, 2003 Casos de la Vida Real presented two rape/murder cases.  The first story was about a businessman who finds out after a trip that his daughter was repeatedly savagely raped by his second wife's lover. The reenactment of the case features a fairly explicit depiction of the child being raped.

Ramiro (el violador): "Ah… ah…  te  va a gustar…"

Niña: "¡Me duele!"

Ramiro (the rapist): "Ah… ah… you're going to like it…"

Girl: "It hurts!"

Sara, the adulterous woman, finds her lover raping the girl.

Sara: "¿Es que conmigo no te bastó? Eres un desgraciado."

Ramiro: "Es que se me antojaba un buen… no seas celosa… nada más fue un tantito…"

Sara: "Ay, me vas a meter en problemas con el papá… si él me corre de aquí por tu lujuria, ¿de qué vamos a vivir?"

Sara: "Wasn't I enough for you? You're a jerk."

Ramiro: "It's just I was craving for a good… don't be jealous… it was just a little…"

Sara: "You're going to get me into trouble with her dad… if he kicks me out of here because of your lust, what are we going to do for a living?"

After the father of the little girl finds out about the rape, he plots revenge against the perverted couple. He catches them having sex and shoots them both.

As if this weren't enough, another no less sordid story followed it. This time, the scenario was a very low-income household. An older man spends most of his days drinking and bossing his wife (or mistress) around. One fateful day he realizes that the woman's teenage daughter Irma is very attractive and starts to make sexual advances to the young lady. The rape scenes are rather explicit. The story concludes with Irma's brother shooting the evil old man.


Univision can be very raunchy, averaging 4.34 sexual scenes, situations, or references per hour. This is comparable to the quantity of sexual content one would see on UPN (the third raciest network), which averaged 4.75 sexual references per hour during November 2002 sweeps.[15]

Even though Casos de la Vida Real is often sexually charged, the raunchiest program on Univision, Sábado Gigante, which airs on Saturday evenings from 8-11 p.m. and averages 9.1 sexual references per hour.  (As a point of reference, NBC, the most sexually-charged network averaged 7.68 instances of sexual content per hour during November 2002 sweeps.)[16]  Sábado Gigante is a three-hour variety show hosted by Latin American icon Don Francisco.  Voluptuous women in skimpy outfits, interviews, contests featuring members of the audience, video clips, comedians, and musical sections, all provide Don Francisco with ample opportunities to crack raunchy sexual jokes. For example, during the June 7th, 2003 airing, Don Francisco presented a clip of himself at a zoo interviewing one of the zoo's bilingual staffers.

Staffer: "Esto es el hueso del pene de una morsa. Te quiero preguntar algo, ¿es una morsa o un morsa? Porque una morsa es femenina. Esto no tiene nada de femenina..."

Don Francisco: "Sí, pero se dice una morsa, el animal es una morsa."

Staffer: "Okay, esto es el hueso del pene de un morsa." (sic)

Don Francisco: "El hueso del pene. O sea, el pene tiene un hueso adentro."

Staffer: "Un hueso adentro."

Don Francisco: "Porque el humano… Porque nosotros tendríamos una serie de problemas si tuviéramos un hueso adentro, pero no tenemos…"

Don Francisco: "¿Este animal cuántos años vive?"

Staffer: "Vive como cuarenta años."

Don Francisco: "Y siempre puede hacer el amor hasta el día en que se muera."

Staffer: "Es cierto…"

Don Francisco: "¿El hueso los ayuda?"

Staffer: "Pero tú sabes, porque la hembra, ella dice cuándo puede hacer el amor y como la hembra del ser humano, cambia la mente muy rápido (sic), tú sabes, y cuando quiere, lo quiere en ese momento, y cuando usted tiene uno de estos lo puede hacer en cualquier momento."

Staffer: "This is the bone of the penis of a walrus." (Man asks Don Francisco about the gender of the noun "morsa.")

Staffer:  "Okay, this is the bone of the penis of a walrus."

Don Francisco: "The bone of the penis. So the penis has a bone inside…"

Staffer: "A bone inside…"

Don Francisco: "Because the humans… Because, we, the humans would have a series of problems if we had a bone inside, but we don't have one…"

Don Francisco: "How many years does this animal live?"

Staffer: "It lives around forty years."

Don Francisco: "And they can always make love until the day they die…"

Staffer: "That's true…"

Don Francisco: "The bone helps them?"

Man: "But you know, the female says when she can make love and just as the female of the human being, she changes her mind very quickly, so when she wants to, she wants to do it right there, and when you have one of these, you can do it at any time."

Foul Language

Univision contains far fewer vulgarities than its English-language counterparts, averaging only 0.41 vulgar utterances per hour.  Nevertheless, racy utterances can be heard during Sunday evening comedy shows like Los Metiches, which features a series of humorous sketches poking fun at celebrities (mostly Latin celebrities from Mexico and Cuba who are popular among Hispanics living in the U.S.)  This program contains mostly scatological and sexual vulgarities.  One popular sketch, for example, features a group called Los Jaimitos who sing silly rhymes, which usually end with a crass profanity that is bleeped but perfectly identifiable. On June 15, 2003 Los Metiches presented this performance by Los Jamitos:

"Muchos famosos están con el cross-over, eso significa cantar en otro idioma, para algunos sería mejor ser mudos, así no cantan y no rompen más las [bleeped ‘bolas.']"

"Many celebrities are doing cross-overs, which means to sing in another language. Some had better be mute so that they don't sing and break the [bleeped ‘balls'] anymore."

"La gira que planea hacer Shakira tiene siete idiomas a lo largo de la ruta. El novio la va a hacer cantar en chino, quiere más dinero ese [bleeped ‘hijo de puta.']"

"Shakira plans to do a tour that includes seven languages along the way. Her boyfriend is going to make her sing in Chinese, that [bleeped ‘son of a bitch'] wants more money."

"También Sofía Vergara lo intenta, el cine en inglés  es su nueva meta, pero Sofía siempre hace lo mismo, en cualquier idioma sólo enseña las [bleeped ‘tetas.']"

"Sofía Vergara tries it as well, English movies are her new goal, but Sofía always does the same, in any language, she only shows her [bleeped ‘tits.']"

"Tantos años lleva Ricky Martin cantando en dos idiomas, y yo no lo discuto, lo único que deja alguna duda, es que algunas veces parece medio [bleeped ‘puto.']"

"Ricky Martin has been singing in two languages for so many years and I don't argue that, the only thing that is not sure, it's that sometimes he seems rather [bleeped ‘fag.']"

"Todos conocen a  Antonio Banderas, su acento español no tiene disimulo. Cuando lo escucho en inglés parece que tuviera un dedo en el [bleeped ‘culo.']"

"Everyone know Antonio Banderas, his Spanish accent cannot be disguised. When I listen to him speaking English, it seems that he has a finger in his [bleeped ‘asshole.']"


Time slots



Average Obscenities


Average sex


Average Violence

8-9 p.m.
























Spec. (8-11)

















Telemundo contains higher levels of violence (1.81 violent situations per hour) than Univision (1.31 per hour), but is still far less violent than U.S. broadcast series.  The 9-10 p.m. timeslot had highest frequency of violent content with 3.83 instances per hour.  By contrast, every U.S. broadcast network except ABC and NBC featured more than six violent situations per hour. 

Telemundo contains higher levels of violence (1.81 violent situations per hour) than Univision (1.31 per hour), but is still far less violent than U.S. broadcast series.  The 9-10 p.m. timeslot had highest frequency of violent content with 3.83 instances per hour.  By contrast, every U.S. broadcast network except ABC and NBC featured more than six violent situations per hour.

Although Telemundo's programming schedule also relies heavily on soap operas, these soaps do not strictly fit the style of the traditional Latin American telenovela. Ladrón de Corazones, for example, is a blend of action-police-drama with a soap-opera format.

Ladrón de Corazones is about a young man, Gustavo Velazco, who wants to avenge the memory of his father, a cop who was killed while investigating a powerful Mexican drug cartel.  Gustavo offers his savvy and expertise to the police so he can work undercover and thus crack the cartel, and at the same time, learn the truth about his father's death. Gustavo only knows that his father was murdered by another cop with strong ties to the cartel. While working for the police, Gustavo falls in love with stunning undercover officer Verónica Vega, who's the daughter of the man who killed his father.

On the June 10, 2003 episode of Ladrón de Corazones, Antonio Vega, Gustavo's father's killer, is now a wealthy executive. In order to maintain his illegal activities in secret, Vega sends one of his assistants to kill a former partner in crime.

Ibáñez tells a man called Ugalde that he will be killed while a thug is pointing a gun at Ugalde's head.  Ibáñez gives the thug the order to pull the trigger.  Ugalde is terrified and begs Ibáñez to let him shoot himself. Ibáñez accepts, since it fits Antonio Vega's plan of disguising the crime as if it were a suicide. Ibáñez continues pointing at Ugalde to make sure the poor man won't attempt any attack in turn. Ugalde starts crying and cannot commit suicide. Ibáñez grabs the gun and shoots him in the head. Blood splashes Ibañez's hands and face. Then, Ibáñez proceeds to carefully relocate the gun in Ugalde's hand.


Telemundo is somewhat less racy (3.74 instances per hour) than Univision (4.34 sexual references per hour). The highest levels of sexual content on Telemundo occur during the 8-9 p.m. Family Hour, with an average of 6.58 sexual scenes or situations occurring per hour.  This spike in sexual content during that time slot is due largely to the teen soap Los Teens, which airs on Telemundo during that period five nights a week.

Los Teens follows a group of middle-upper class Hispanic seniors who attend Coral Gables High School in South Florida.  While some of its story lines feature cultural contrasts and the effects of divorce on children, Los Teens focuses on sex as if it were the one and only one dimension in the life of an adolescent. In addition, kids speak a sort of Spanglish, and some of the English words they borrow are quite disturbing, as they reflect confusion about or indifference to moral values. For example, in order to suggest that someone is "cool" or "successful," they use the word "pimp" as it is shown in the following transcribed scene.

On the June 6, 2003 episode of Los Teens, two girls gossip about a teen called Raúl, who apparently had an unsuccessful sexual experience with a girl.

Madeline: "Así que ya sabes lo de Raúl..."

Valeria: "Uhmm... a medias, ¿es verdad que Raulito no es tan pimp como parece?"

Madeline: "Vamos a decir que no funcionó por pequeñas razones..."

Valeria: "¡Qué chisme!"

Madeline: "Se lo merece por creerse tan bueno, y por salir con todas las cheerleaders..."

Valeria: "Don't swear, porque pronto todo el colegio va a saber quién es el verdadero Raulito..." (haciendo un gesto con el dedo meñique).

Madeline: "So you already know about Raúl…"

Valeria: "Uhmm… a bit… is it true that Raúl is not as pimp as he looks?"

Madeline: "Let's say it didn't work out for minimal reasons…"

Valeria: "That's a story!"

Madeline: "He deserves that for claiming to be so good and for going out with all the cheerleaders…"

Valeria: "Don't swear, because the entire school is going to know who the true Raulito is… very soon…" (making a gesture with her pinky finger).

Double standards can also be observed regarding the teens' sexual activity. Young males are encouraged to be sexually active even when they are not in a romantic relationship. On the other hand, girls would be considered promiscuous if they exhibited a similar pattern of behavior, such as having multiple partners or having sex outside a serious relationship. Not only is sexual activity recommended for adolescent males, but so are kinky sexual fantasies and open discussions about them.

On the June 10 episode of Los Teens, Diego, who is very successful with the girls, and his friend Santos, who is desperate to lose his virginity, have the following dialogue:

Diego: "Okay, okay... Mira, compadre, si una mujer te rechaza sin ningún tipo de explicación lógica, seguramente es una dyke."

Santos: "Ah... entonces es eso lo que me está pasando a mí... claro. Es por eso que no me hacen caso. Es porque le he estado echando los perros a una cuerda de lesbianas."

Diego: "Santos, yo no quise decir..."

Santos: "No, pero es que está clarito, chamu... Oye, ¿no será que lo que yo necesito es estar con dos mujeres a la vez? Ay, dos mujeres..."

El diálogo continúa:

Diego: "Además si todas esas mujeres fueran lesbianas como tú dices, yo ya estaría en un monasterio. Mira, guey, escúchame algo: deja de pensar que el problema son ellas."

Santos: "Pero... yo no lo vería tanto como un problema..."

Diego: "¿Ah no?¿Por qué?"

Santos: " Porque si te pones a pensar en dos mujeres a la vez... no es ni tan mala idea, ¿ah?"

Diego: "Mala idea no es..."

Santos: "¿Malo?"

Diego: "No..." (riendo) "Oye, bueno, espérame,  aquí  el problema  entonces eres tú."

Santos: "¿Yo?"

Diego: "Sí."

Santos: "¿O sea que tú estás diciendo que yo en realidad soy una lesbiana por dentro y que por eso es que me gustan tanto las mujeres?"

Diego: "No, el problema es que todas las mujeres saben perfectamente que lo único que tú tienes en la cabeza es sexo. Sexo, sexo, sexo. Sexo en la mañana, sexo al mediodía, sexo en la tarde, sexo en la noche, sexo,  sexo..."

Diego: "Okay, okay... Look, dude, if a woman rejects you without any logical explanation, she's a dyke for sure."

Santos: "Ah... so that is what is happening to me... of course. That's why they don't pay attention to me. It's because I'm hitting on a bunch of lesbians."

Diego: "Santos, I didn't want to say..."

Santos: "No, but it's just that clear, dude... Listen, wouldn't it be that I need to be with two women at the same time? Ah, two women..."

The conversation continues…

Diego: "Also, if all those women were lesbian as you say, I would already be in a monastery. Look, Huey, listen to me: Stop thinking that they are the problem."

Santos: "I wouldn't see it as a problem..."

Diego: "Ah, no? Why not?"

Santos: "Because if you think about it, two women at the same time... it's not such a bad idea, eh?"

Diego: "It's not a bad idea..."

Santos: "Bad?"

Diego: "No... Listen, wait a second, so you are the problem, then."

Santos: "Am I?"

Diego: "Yes."

Santos: "So are you saying that I have a lesbian inside and that's why I like women so much?"

Diego: "No, the problem is that all women know perfectly well that you only think about sex. Sex, sex, sex. Sex in the morning, sex at noon, sex in the afternoon, sex at night... sex, sex, sex..."

Foul Language

Telemundo is rather clean as far as language goes, with only .32 profanities per hour overall. (Univision averaged 0.41 vulgarities per hour but we should take into account that Univision has more hours of original programming). Mild profanities such as "carajo" and "joder" have been heard in Ladrón de Corazones. Some bleeped language, such as "cojones" was present in some episodes of the reality show Protagonistas de Novela 2, as in the following example:

On the June 13, 2003 episode of Protagonistas de Novela 2, Yesenia loses her temper:

Yesenia: "La verdad que tú sí tienes [bleeped ‘cojones'] de sentarte aquí…"

Yesenia: "It's true that you have the [bleeped ‘cojones'] to sit here…"


Statistical averages in this case can be deceiving since they seem to show that networks are fairly free of questionable content. However, if we analyze each hourly segment and certain shows in particular, not only do the numbers tell a different story, but also the content is often so seriously objectionable that it could make any concerned parent raise his/her eyebrows.

Popular shows such as Univision's Sábado Gigante, which is the longest-running  weekly TV program in history[17] is overflowing with raunchy jokes, women in skimpy clothes - perpetuating the objectification of women, and vulgarity in general.

Telemundo does not do much better. In its attempts to adjust the format of its programming to an American palate, Telemundo blends the traditional telenovela format with teen elements, producing a hybrid such as Los Teens. This show was so charged with sexual dialogues that it almost looked like an irresponsible and flawed course in sexual education, a syllabus filled with double standards and misconceptions.

Overall, Spanish-language networks seem to favor all that is shocking and sensationalistic, either with telenovelas and general interest shows such as Univision's Casos de la Vida Real, Aquí y Ahora, or Telemundo's Ripley's and specials such as Carnaval do Brasil.

It is sad that Spanish networks knowing that Hispanic families tend to watch TV together[18], refuse to raise the bar and don't have anything better to offer them than loud and off-color programming. We believe that sponsors, knowing the fact that Hispanic families sit together in front of the TV set, should support programs with deeper and more responsible content that encourage family dialogue in a productive manner. It would be commendable if popular icons such as Don Francisco, who already have an incredible following, abandoned their tendency to impudence and used their image and position to promote a more wholesome way of entertainment.

[1] Sabrina Jones, "Hispanics Surpass Blacks as Growth Market for Ads," Washington Post 5 January, 2004: E01.

[2] Broadcast Newsroom.com, "Univision Unveils Research on Spanish-Language TV" 3 March, 2004.

[3]  David Kaplan, "Spanish-language networks become titans," Hispanic American Center for Economic Research. 22 June, 2002.

[4] David Kaplan, "Spanish-language networks become titans," Hispanic American Center for Economic Research. 22 June, 2002.

[5] Broadcast Newsroom.com, "Univision Unveils Research on Spanish-Language TV" 3 March, 2004.

[6] Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Hispanic Media & Marketing Factoids. www.ahaa.org

[7] Hispanic heritage. com "Study says Hispanic Viewers watch more TV." (Source New York Daily News. 21 August, 2002.)

[8] Broadcast Newsroom.com, "Univision Unveils Research on Spanish-Language TV" 3 March, 2004.

[9] David Kaplan, "Spanish-language networks become titans," Hispanic American Center for Economic Research. 22 June 2002.

[10] Telemundo airs movies made for theatrical release translated into Spanish. They have not been included in this study.

[11] Richard Jackson Harris, "The Impact of Sexually Explicit Media," Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research, ed. Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zilmann (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994).

[12] Committee on Public Education, "Media Violence." Pediatrics. 108. 5 (2001): 1222-26.

[14] IBID

[16] IBID

[17] Sheryl Flatow, "For Many his Show is Home," Parade.  9 November, 2003.

[18] CAB Multicultural Marketing Resource Center, "Living in a Dual World: A Study of the Latino Teen -Starcom Media." www.cabletvadbureau.com

Executive Summary  | Statistical Appendix




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