KWHY hi-def bow beats Univision

LA indie to b'cast 'Fiesta'

Moving into the network big leagues, indie Los Angeles station KWHY Channel 22 will air the nation’s first Spanish-lingo HDTV broadcast April 30.

KWHY, beating out heavyweight Latino network Univision in its completion of its digital transmitter, has successfully met the FCC’s 2006 HDTV signal adoption deadline.

But KWHY, bowing its technology with a four- hour telecast of L.A. street fair “Fiesta Broadway 2000,” is one of the last area stations to join the HDTV fray.

English-lingo KABC, KNBC, KCBS, KTLA, KCOP and KTTV all transmit in HDTV.

Yet KWHY’s reluctance is understandable, considering consumers’ snail-like pace in purchasing TV sets capable of receiving the high-definition signal.

Moreover, the hot talk at this month’s Las Vegas confab put on by the National Assn. of Broadcasters (normally hi-def’s biggest cheerleaders) is Internet and TV convergence.

“There may not be millions of viewers sitting in front of HDTV sets,” admits KWHY general manager Martin Dugan. “But we pride ourselves in our pioneering spirit and will proudly broadcast our HDTV signal.”

To spread the word, KWHY will equip downtown Los Angeles department store chain La Curacao with several HDTV-enabled sets.

Dugan wants to advance Hispanic TV’s presence within the country’s current English-centric atmosphere.

“Spanish language no longer takes a back seat to English language. We’re raising the bar for future Spanish-language broadcasts,” Dugan insisted of Channel 22, which currently reaches an estimated 5 million households.

Besides Univision flagship KMEX, other Los Angeles stations yet to go digital are KCAL and KCET.

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