Exec broadens his purview with oversight of Hispanic net

Fernando Gaston, senior VP of content and creative at MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central Latin America, is broadening his purview to include U.S. Hispanic network Tr3s: MTV, Musica y Mas, replacing Jose Tillan, who has ankled to spend more time with his family.

Federico Cuervo, VP of programming and production for MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central Latin America, will replace Gaston as brand manager of Comedy Central Latin America. Both will report to Sofia Ioannou, managing director of Viacom Intl. Media Networks, the Americas.

Viacom is banking on Gaston’s success in growing the MTV brand in Latin America to help drive ratings growth at Tr3s, which reaches 34 million U.S. TV households, of which 6.1 million are Hispanic.

“Gaston is a strong leader who knows our brand and understands how to accelerate the growth of our business,” said Ioannou. “When he took over as brand manager of MTV Latin America in 2009, his content strategy led to double-digit growth,” she said.

In February, Gaston spearheaded the launch of Comedy Central in Latin America; in Mexico, it ranks among the top 10 entertainment channels.

Key to the company’s new programming strategy will be original content that creates awareness of social issues, such as high school-set telenovela thriller “Ultimo ano” (Last Year), which debuted in Latin America in September and premieres on Tr3s in January.

Its debut on MTV Latin America pushed the network to second place among pay TV channels with females 18-24.

MTV hopes to increase its production of telenovelas, currently at one a year.

“Our telenovelas are breaking molds, for instance, ‘Ultimo ano’ was shot in real places and not in a studio,” Gaston said. Music is also a key element in its youth-targeted telenovelas, which began with “Ninas mal” and “Popland.”

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