Some Hispanic TV viewers will pay more attention to candidates who speak Spanish, study finds


Wednesday, May 21st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



About half of Hispanic adults who watch television in English and Spanish said they are more likely to pay attention to candidates who speak to them in Spanish, according to a new study.

Bilingual TV viewers also were more likely to watch television news in Spanish _ about 57 percent said they preferred to watch Spanish-language news, according to the study released Wednesday by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, based in Claremont, Calif.

``Where it was unusual in 2000 that we saw candidates of both parties being able to speak Spanish at a minimum level, I now think that will be the norm,'' said Louis DeSipio, author of the report. ``Latinos respond to that. With relatively little training, you can earn some respect in this important electorate.''

About 7.5 million Hispanics were registered to vote in November 2000. That could increase to almost 9 million in November 2004, according to projections by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

The institute's study looked at the TV viewing habits of 1,232 Hispanics in Los Angeles, Houston and New York who watched both English and Spanish language programs. About 75 percent of Hispanic adults, 16 million, regularly watch television in both Spanish and English, according to a previous study by the institute.

The new study was conducted by telephone between Dec. 10, 2001, and Jan. 7, 2002, and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

It found bilingual viewers watched different kinds of programs in Spanish and English. Many turned to Spanish for news, soap operas and variety programs.

Most of their favorite programs were on Spanish-language networks. Among the top 10 were soap operas ``Amigas y Rivales'' and ``La Intrusa''; ``Sabado Gigante'', a weekend variety show; talk shows ``Laura'' and ``Cristina'' and news on Univision, a Spanish-language network.

But for movies, sports and situation comedies, the viewers turned to English-language stations.

``Bilingualism is a reality out there in America today,'' said Harry Pachon, president of the institute, which researches issues affecting Hispanics. ``In an immigrant household, you have a mixed language household. You have children speaking English, you have parents talking Spanish'' and both sometimes speaking a combination of the two.

Children were much more likely to prefer English-language programming, in part because there is relatively little Spanish-language programming targeted at them, DeSipio said.