Comcast is Expanding its Ethnic Programming

Comcast Corp. is targeting Spanish speakers and immigrants with about 140 new ethnic TV channels.The company says it wants to compete with satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network for ethnic viewers looking for programming in their native languages or from their home countries.

That shortage of bandwidth, or space, for new channels is no longer a problem; Comcast is converting its cable system to digital technology from analog.

In the process, Comcast's channel-carrying capacity is zooming to about 1,116 standard digital channels from 116 analog channels, experts say. The new capacity, Comcast executives say, will be used for faster Internet speeds, high-definition channels, and ethnic programming.

Comcast has retained top Hispanic ad agency Grupo Gallegos, of Long Beach, Calif., and is advertising its Hispanic packages on Univision, a leading Spanish-language TV programmer.

Ethnic channels will be packaged in a Triple Play bundle of TV, phone, and Internet services that satellite companies cannot match because they do not offer Internet and phone, Comcast said.

Not all cities will be offered the same ethnic channels. Instead, offerings will reflect the local immigrant populations and will be sold as packages - a Russian package, for example, or a South Asian package. Comcast has not disclosed which ethnic channels will be available in this region or what the package composition will be.

In Chicago, which has switched to digital, Comcast offers 60 Hispanic channels and several Polish channels.

A week ago, Comcast announced San Francisco channels in Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Greek, German, and Hindi.

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