Firestone Communications will launch the first digital 24-hour Hispanic kids service in the U.S., ¡Sopresa,! on March 15, 2003 to be carried on three cable platforms on 350 systems reaching approximately 400,000 subscribers. Spanish-language programming acquired from Spain, Latin American and the U.S. aims to reach a broad kids audience. Mornings and afternoons are targeted at pre-school and younger children with animation, pre-school series, variety, documentaries and special events. The late evening schedule targets tweens with comedy, talk shows, game shows, music programs and movies. Firestone, based in New York City, was recently started by broadcasters from Univision, Telemundo and Allbritton Communications, as well as executives from The Food Network, Newsworld International and Trio. It recently acquired assets of the Dallas-based Hispanic Television Network (HTVN). ¡Sorpresa! plans to reach the especially large Hispanic communities in New York, Florida and California via signed agreements with Time Warner Cable, Cox and The National Cable TV Cooperative. Up until now only programming blocks for kids have existed on Hispanic nets such as Teleftura and NBC's Telemundo. "We have been watching this opportunity develop," said Leonard Firestone, chairman/CEO of Firestone, "and by utilizing the HTVN assets, we're able to initiate a positive change on the programming landscape and also provide a valuable outlet for America's Hispanic community." Firestone president Michael Fletcher adds, "¡Sorpresa! will be the premiere TV vehicle for ad advertisers seeking to target Hispanic children." One in six children in the U.S. are Hispanic, plus Hispanic purchasing power is increasing as well as ads to reach Hispanic consumers. Marketers spent $2.5 billion in 2002 on ads to reach this target group. Firestone is a privately held company. Its board of directors includes Peter Lund, former president/CEO of CBS Corp.; Raymond Mason, former chair/president/CEO of Charter Group; and Ron Townsend, former president of Gannett Television. Firestone was president and GM of WJXX an ABC affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida. Fletcher has 20 years in the industry, including TV production for Univision, Telemundo and CMT Latin America.