At the same time the Black network was announced, Mutual president C. Edward Little announced that Mutual would also start a service targeting the then 11-million Spanish-speaking Americans.

Mutual Cadena Hispanica signed on May 1, 1972 with 17 affiliates, mostly in the southwest. Miguel Bomar was MSN's news director.

The network fed 16 newscasts daily at :45 minutes past the hour between 7:45 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. eastern time. Two sportscasts were fed weekdays, three on Saturday and Sunday.

But it wasn't until August that the network signed its first sponsor, when Sterling Drug bought 15 commercials on an alternate-week basis for Bayer Aspirin.

Not much else is known about MSN (or MCH). Clearly, there wasn't enough advertiser support at the time to keep it going, and the network signed off after about six months. One problem was a lack of commonality among the Spanish-speaking population. Instead of one audience united by an ethnic background, Mutual found three distinctly different groups of Spanish-speaking Americans with no common denominator among them for news authenticity. The East Coast Hispanic-Americans, who were of Puerto-Rican descent, had different problems and interests from the Florida Hispanic-Americans, who were of Cuban descent. They, in turn, had different problems and interests from the Southwest and West Coast Hispanic-Americans, who were of Mexican descent.

Additionally, there were language barriers: with each group using a different dialect, the network's newscasts were unintelligible to a large portion of the audience.

MCH was at least 20 years ahead of its time; with the explosion in the Spanish-speaking population - and the rise of Spanish-based networks since, one can only imagine what might have been had Mutual hung in there.

Some information on this page came from various issues of Broadcasting, Variety, and "Radio Journalism" by John R. and Denise A. Bittner, (1977, Prentice-Hall, Inc.).

Text copyright © 2009 Kenneth I. Johannessen.

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