tampabay.com

Spanish TV, rated G

A producer hopes his new channel, TV Vision, gives Hispanic viewers wholesome, utilitarian programming.

By ALEXANDRA ZAYAS
Published July 28, 2006


TAMPA HEIGHTS

Francisco Rios was 19 and living in Puerto Rico when he grew tired of his shallow friends in show biz.

He was making good money doing television voice work and never had a problem finding a girlfriend. But it wasn't enough.

"I felt an emptiness in my heart," said Rios, now 36. "The only thing that filled that was God."

Years later, Rios has spent most of his career producing Christian programs for TV stations in Puerto Rico and Miami, where he moved in 1997.

After moving to Seffner three years ago, he co-founded a church, CPR Ministries, at 3920 S Kings Ave. in Brandon. His 10-year-old is named Christian. His 13-year-old is named Christy.

Rios said he believes God has given him the talent to reach people through programming and to communicate family values through television. These days, he works out of a small TV station on N Franklin Street in Tampa Heights producing his latest venture, TV Vision.

Since the May launch, viewers from as far as Spring Hill, Lake Wales, Sarasota and Clearwater can tune in to Channel 30 to learn how to speak English, listen to Gospel preachers and watch cartoons.

The new channel is geared toward Hispanic viewers who, Rios said, are starved for wholesome Spanish language shows and tired of telenovela sex and violence.

"It's television with vision, a vision that we want to continue doing something for the community," Rios said.

To promote the new station, TV Vision held a block party in a Ruskin trailer park. Along with music and food, the station provided doctors and lawyers who consulted with residents, mostly Mexican immigrants who don't speak English.

Rios realized the station could be a troubleshooting tool for immigrants, to help them avoid exploitation at work. He gave lawyer Edgar Guzman a talk show on legal advice in Spanish.

Local pastors also use the station to preach and promote their churches. Rios said that other TV stations allot certain blocks of time for religious programming, but TV Vision allows pastors to reserve air time at any time, even prime time.

Most of the station's programming is imported from La Familia Network in Texas, but Rios hopes to add more local shows as the station grows.

In the long term, Rios hopes TV Vision can become a network to help other cities start their own Hispanic family-oriented channels.

"We are moving forward every day," Rios said.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or 813 226-3354.