Following the U.S. launch of two of its entertainment channels in Texas last fall, Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Multimedios has its eye on rolling out in more of the top Hispanic markets this side of the border.

Most significant for the Latin music industry are Multimedios TV and TeleRitmo, which have recently gained cable carriage in Texas. Within its general entertainment programming, Multimedios TV offers variety and music-themed shows such as the regional Mexican performance-based “Gruperisimo”; TeleRitmo specializes in regional Mexican music videos.

TeleRitmo launched on Comcast in Houston in September, and is expected to launch on the cable operator within weeks in Chicago, says Gustavo Mena, a former Telemundo executive who is leading Multimedios’ stateside distribution effort. Multimedios TV launched on Time Warner Cable throughout Texas in cities such as Dallas, San Antonio and Austin last month.

One of Multimedios’ major selling points is its programs’ origin in the northern Mexican hub of Monterrey, says Mena. “When cable operators started launching Spanish-language channels, a lot of attention was not paid as to where that programming was coming from. There was little distinction made between Spanish-language programming from Mexico and Argentina. To the decision makers, Spanish was Spanish.” But with operators recognizing that the overwhelming majority of U.S. Hispanics are of Mexican origin, “it’s a great time now for the expansion of a company like Multimedios, the third largest producer of original programming in Mexico.”

In 2009, Mena hopes to secure carriage on the satellite TV operators, as well as cable expansion into the top five cable systems, (including such cities as New York and Los Angeles) of TeleRitmo, Multimedios TV and the news-oriented Multimedios property Milenio TV—though operators will choose which of those channels they’ll pick up in various markets.

Mena also heads up mobile distribution for another regional Mexican video channel, Guadalajara-based Video Rola, but he doesn’t see operators shying away from having more than one. “From my perspective [the market] is still underserved, so there is opportunity for everyone,” says Mena.

With Multimedios’ radio, television, print and live venue properties in Mexico, artists have several promotional platforms under one roof, but one that now extends to the U.S. Promotional campaigns for the channels in Multimedios’ U.S. markets could include such elements as live local broadcasts, artist appearances and meet-and-greets with the channels' personalities.

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