The 24-hour channel is called Mas! Arizona and will debut Oct 16. Cox Communications owns the cable franchise for the Phoenix area, and the channel will reach Cox's 456,000 subscribers there. Mas! Arizona is owned equally by Dallas-based Belo and Atlanta-based Cox, which called it the Southwest's first Spanish-language cable news, information and sports channel.
Belo owns The Dallas Morning News, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and Texas Cable News (Channel 38). In Phoenix, Belo owns KTVK-TV, an independent station with substantial local news programming.
Cox is one of the nation's largest cable companies.
The two companies already have a joint venture in Phoenix: They are equal partners in the 24-hour Arizona NewsChannel, an English-language cable channel.
Mas! Arizona is hiring its own news staff but also will draw on the newsgathering abilities of KTVK and the Arizona NewsChannel.
"The entire operation has been put together with the intent of being able to do things quickly, cleanly and with some strong production values," said KTVK vice president and general manager Sue Schwartz.
The new Phoenix channel will offer continuous news, weather and sports, as well as in-depth coverage of local issues and stories on the area's communities.
Mas! Arizona's news operations will be housed in KTVK's facilities, and its advertising staff will work in Cox offices.
That arrangement allows for relatively low costs. "It's not like a start-up where you build facilities and staff it with entirely different people," said Belo senior vice president Skip Cass.
Start-up and operating costs for the first full year are expected to be about $1 million, which will be shared by Belo and Cox Communications.
The fast-growing Phoenix area has a large concentration of Hispanic households.
"This is a very important initiative providing a unique service to the Phoenix and Arizona Spanish-speaking community," said Jack Sander, president of Belo's television group and Belo's executive vice president/media operations. "Just as the Arizona NewsChannel has been a great success, we expect similar results with Mas! Arizona."
"We are thrilled to partner with Belo's television group to bring our Spanish-speaking customers this unique information service," said Billy Farina, vice president of advertising sales for Cox.
Mas! Arizona is the fourth cable-news partnership between Cox and Belo. In addition to the Arizona NewsChannel, the companies are partners in Local News on Cable in Hampton/Norfolk, Va. and NewsWatch on Channel 15 in New Orleans.
Belo's holdings include 18 television stations, eight daily newspapers and cable and interactive-media properties.