Thousands of Indiana residents will not be able to watch a Spanish-language television network after Thursday, when Univision is scheduled to stop airing on an Indianapolis station that has carried it for five years.
LIN TV Corp., the parent company of Indianapolis station WIIH, did not to renew its contract with Univision. That decision forced cable providers Bright House Networks and Comcast Corp. to drop Univision’s programming in the Indianapolis area because the cable providers receive their signal for the Spanish-language network through WIIH.
More than 341,000 households, including those using antennas, are expected to lose access to Univision through WIIH.
“Que lastima. What a shame,” said Diana Herrera, a 21-year-old who watches her favorite soap opera on Univision. “My parents and I are asking ourselves how is it possible that a channel that brought us so much information and entertainment can end so quickly and abruptly.”
LIN TV spokeswoman Courtney Guertin said the company “could not come to appropriate terms on our contract with Univision.” WIIH, instead, will air the programing of its sister station, CBS affiliate WISH.
Univision told The Indianapolis Star in a statement that the network is making its feed available to cable and satellite distributors that serve central Indiana. Those with satellite service can still watch Univision with problems.
Some TV providers — including AT&T and Comcast — are working on negotiating their own contracts with Univision.
But Bright House decided against pursuing a contract with Univision and its viewers will not have access to any Spanish-language television stations. The ratings didn’t justify the cost, said Buz Nesbit, president of the company’s Indianapolis division.
“I don’t know what the exact ratings were (on Univision), but I can tell you that it’s not one of those stations that has a huge following,” he said. “It may have a loyal following.”
Hispanics head about 32,150 TV households in Indianapolis, making it the 57th-largest Hispanic television market in the country out of 210, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Hispanic population in Indianapolis has grown more than 80 percent since 2000, according to U.S. census estimates, and Hispanics make up nearly 7 percent of Marion County’s population.
Univision helps Spanish speakers assimilate into mainstream American culture, said Maria Quiroz-Southwood of the Indiana Latino Institute.
“It’s extremely disappointing that it’s no longer going to be available,” she said.