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LIN to Bring Puerto Rico Up North

8/23/2004 6:00 AM Eastern

Broadcaster LIN TV Corp. is launching a Spanish-language cable network that will offer Puerto Rican news and entertainment programming, officials said Monday.

The new service, WAPA-America, will be programmed out of LIN’s TV station in San Juan, Puerto Rico -- WAPA-TV -- and will launch on DirecTV Inc. Sept. 1.

DirecTV has exclusive direct-broadcast satellite rights to offer WAPA-America through Jan. 31, 2006, and it will carry the network as part of its “DirecTV Para Todos” programming tier.

LIN also said there has been interest from cable operators.

“DirecTV Para Todos customers will be the first to see WAPA-America in the United States and will now have access to even more Spanish-language programming that is both culturally relevant and entertaining,” DirecTV executive vice president of programming Stephanie Campbell said in a prepared statement.

“We are pleased to serve the Puerto Rican community [with programming] that is direct from their home country and to continue our commitment to offering DirecTV Para Todos customers the best and most diverse lineup of Spanish-language programming available,” she added.

LIN TV will service WAPA-America out of its operating hub in Springfield, Mass., in order to minimize operating expenses.

“We anticipate that Hispanic audiences -- particularly the substantial Puerto Rican populations in markets such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Orlando [Fla.] -- will regard this service as an important means to stay current with local news and entertainment programming,” LIN chairman and CEO Gary Chapman said in a prepared statement.

HITV-TV, the education-oriented Spanish-language service, also offers programming targeted toward the Puerto Rican community. For example, it covered the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York June 13.

September