OPENING DOORS FOR LATINOS IN THE MEDIA
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a non-partisan, non-profit, media advocacy and civil rights organization created to advance American Latino employment and programming equity throughout the entertainment industry and to advocate for telecommunications policies that benefit Latinos and other people of color.NHMC was established in Los Angeles in 1986 and currently has two offices: Its headquarters in Pasadena, California, and a Washington, DC, office. NHMC serves as a national organization comprised of statewide chapters that have a strong presence in the following areas: California, New York, Arizona, Michigan and Washington, DC.
The efforts of NHMC are critical to the American Latino community due in large part to NHMC’s reputation as one of the most sought-after and credible national, Latino media organizations. This is important because, unless media bias against Latinos is stopped, the present generation of American Latino youth will grow up viewing largely negative images of themselves which only serve to promote low self-esteem and ambitions. Media bias goes beyond negative stereotypes to the lack of Latino presence in the mainstream media. Although American Latinos comprise over 16% of the U.S. population and are resolutely the largest minority group in the country, this important community is still largely invisible in primetime media. NHMC believes that in order for the media to present a fair and sufficient portrayal of the American Latino community, Latinos must be employed at all levels of the media industry with special emphasis on programming and policy making positions.
NHMC educates and influences media corporations on the importance of including U.S. Latinos at all levels of employment. It augments the pool of Latino talent with its professional development programs. It challenges media that carelessly exploit negative Latino stereotypes. It scrutinizes and opines on media and telecommunications policy issues.
NHMC envisions a world in which U.S. Latinos have media parity and are portrayed as multidimensional people devoid of negative stereotypes.
Ten years ago, NHMC – along with representatives of the African American, Native American and Asian Pacific American communities – brokered deals with the four major television networks to improve their efforts to diversify their workforce in front and in behind the camera. The networks each signed a Memorandum of Understanding, requiring them to disclose annual employment and diversity statistics. For the past ten years the networks have provided their statistics, based on which NHMC and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) have issued annual report cards, grading their progress. NHMC has seen incremental improvement since the inception of the Memoranda.
In addition, NHMC has filed over fifty petitions with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny radio and television station licenses nationwide, either on the basis that American Latinos were inadequately represented in the employment ranks, or for instances of obscenity, indecency, and profanity on primetime Spanish-language broadcasting that squarely violated FCC rules and the law, or because of the absence of FCC-mandated children’s programs. Many of these petitions have resulted in fines or reprimands.
NHMC also bridges the gap between qualified Latino talent and those in the entertainment industry that are seeking such talent. For instance, NHMC administers NLMC’s Television Writers Program. This program trains ten outstanding Latino writers per year, and introduces them to industry executives who are searching for Latino talent to add to their teams of writers. Program alumni who have gone on to successful careers in film and television include Norberto Barba, Davah Feliz Avena and Rafael Garcia, among many others.
In Washington, DC, NHMC’s President & CEO, Alex Nogales, is often called to testify in Congress on various media and telecommunications policies that impact the American Latino community, including minority media ownership issues. NHMC’s Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, Jessica Gonzalez, has testified before the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Online Safety and Technology Working Group on the growing presence and negative effects of hate speech over the Internet, and before the FCC on the connection between media ownership limits and minority ownership of broadcast stations. Since expanding its legal expertise through the hiring of two attorneys, NHMC also submits public comments to the FCC record on a variety of policies that impact the Latino community.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition is a member of the following organizations:
- The National Latino Media Council – Secretariat
- Media & Democracy Coalition – Executive Board of Directors
- Minority Media & Telecommunications Council – Board of Advisors
- National Hispanic Leadership Agenda – Member
- The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) – Member
- Wireless Innovation Alliance – Member
- Angelenos for Equitable Access to Technology – Member
- Smart Television Alliance (STA) – www.smarttelevisionalliance.org