In this issue:
- President's Message
- Writers Program Update
- Network Television Diversity Report Cards
- PBS In-House Diversification Update
- 11th Annual Impact Awards Gala
- Digital Television Transition Update
- Hate Speech Update
Dear Friends of NHMC,
As 2007 quickly comes to an end and we celebrate the spirit and hope that is Christmas, this is an ideal time to thank you for your continued support of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Your ongoing commitment to advancing our mission of Latino employment equity in the entertainment industry and American mainstream media is a testament to how far we have come in the last 20 years.
In the coming year, our community will continue to be challenged by a number of media-based initiatives that are simply not good for Latinos. This is most evident in the growing anti-immigrant sentiment that is perpetuated on conservative talk shows across the country. This racist hate speech cannot and will not be tolerated by good Americans and we must work together to mitigate its negative impact on all Americans, not just Latinos. In fact, last month’s FBI Hate Crimes Statistics Report documented what we knew – that anti-Hispanic crimes are up a whopping 25% since 2004.
However, despite this threat to the community and the huge amount of time we have put behind this hate speech issue, the NHMC is proud to report the following among its many accomplishments this year:
We successfully executed our annual Impact Award events. The Gala in February and the Luncheon in September once again brought together influential Latino media luminaries to celebrate the talent and ambition of our community, and to also recognize those sponsoring corporations that continue to share our vision. Both of these important fundraisers are crucial to the success of our efforts, so we heartily thank you for all your support.
This year also saw the execution of our 4th
Annual Latino Writers Program Workshop. This program earns more credibility every year and continues to identify some of the best writing talent in the country. I cannot emphasize more how important the development of Latino writers is to our overall NHMC effort. Qualified Latino writers will secure the creation of future television programming that showcase our rich culture and diverse community. Special thanks to NBC, ABC and Southwest Airlines for their financial support and time contribution towards the success of this important endeavor.
Another notable achievement in 2007 was the creation of another NHMC office in Washington DC. Because of her astute commitment to affecting positive change for Latinos in the media and her unwavering dedication to promoting the NHMC values and mission, Inez Gonzalez was promoted to Vice President of Media Policy and will lead the new office for us in Washington. Inez will move to our nation’s capital in January where she and her associates can work more closely with the policy makers and legislators to help further our cause. Please join me in congratulating Inez on this well deserved promotion and her impending adventure.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, we continue to make strides in the area of Minority Media ownership. This is a hot-button issue and something the NHMC must continue to monitor on a daily basis. On November 8th
, I was invited to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Localism, Diversity and Media Ownership. I emphasized to the Senate that the state of minority ownership in the media is in fact ‘in crisis,’ and therefore no changes should be made to the FCC’s current media-ownership regulations until the commission completes a comprehensive study on minority ownership. The truth is, the severity of this problem cannot be brushed aside. Latinos comprise 15% of the U.S. population, yet Latinos own just 15 of the more than 1,300 full-power commercial television stations in this country. That is only 1 percent and radio is not much better. Hispanics own just over 300 radio stations out of more than 10,000 or just under 3 percent and this level of inequality in the media is absolutely unsustainable.
So, as the NHMC prepares to close another year, we take pride in this past year’s accomplishments and urge you to maintain your interest and support of our mission. We will continue to embrace the opportunity to serve our community with the passion and compassion that are necessary to affect positive change. Together, we will be successful and together we will meet these challenges that lie ahead.
All of us at the National Hispanic Media Coalition wish you and your families a beautiful Christmas with sincere gratitude for your continued support.
President & CEO
2007 Writer's Program Update
Despite the WGA Writer’s Strike, the Fall 2007 Latino Television Writers Program workshop, administered by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, was a tremendous success, underscoring the ongoing commitment by the National Latino Media Council to increase Latino employment in all facets of the Media industry.
Ten talented Latino writers were selected from across the country to participate in our 4th
Annual workshop for the opportunity to work with network television executives and showcase their talent,” beamed Alex Nogales, President & CEO of NHMC, “and once again the network professionals were very impressed.”
The Latino Writers workshop began in Los Angeles on November 3rd
and concluded on December 8th, and included some of the best television writing talent in the country. “I had the distinct honor of leading a group of highly gifted Latino-writers to develop spec TV scripts that showcased their talent,” explained Geoff Harris, Former NBC Development Executive, “after the writer’s strike ends, network executives hope to use those scripts to place our writers on TV series.”
The Latino Television Writer’s Program is a rigorous, 5-week workshop and not intended for beginners. “The writing program was very rewarding to me,” said Don Perez, one of this year’s participants, “there’s just something about sitting with 9 other writers that gets your creative juices flowing.” The program requires each experienced script writer to write a half-hour sitcom, or a one-hour television drama in order to demonstrate their unique talents and perspective. “We were all there for the same reason,” admitted Perez, “because we want to get staffed on a television show – but not once did it ever feel as if we were competing with one another.”
Thanks to the ongoing support and commitment to diversity from NBC, ABC and Southwest Airlines, the Latino Writers Workshop continues to be an important bridge that provides Latino talent “access” to key network executives and the opportunity to network with other Latino writers. By creating an atmosphere of support, creativity and shared experiences, the Latino Writers Program ensures that the mainstream media will not only promote qualified Latino talent, but will also secure programming that showcases the Latino experience.
2007 Network Television Diversity Report Cards
On October 30th
the NHMC, together with the Asian-American and American Indian Media Coalitions, presented a Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition report card outlining diversity performance grades for ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX television networks. The annual report card demonstrated some diversity progress on network TV but shortfalls still exist.
The report cards are based on statistical information provided by each network and measure performance in eight categories: diverse actors in regular and recurring roles, diverse directors, writers/producers, entertainment creative executives, program development, supplier diversity and overall network commitment to diversity initiatives.
“The number of American Latinos both in front and back of camera has increased,” said Esteban Torres, National Latino Media Council Chair, “but they are incremental numbers in proportion to the (Latino) population.” The retired U.S. Congressman went on to report excellent grades for ABC television for securing Latino talent in every one of the network’s most popular programs and its award-winning success with the mega-hit “Ugly Betty.” As a result, ABC is the only network that has earned an overall grade of A- for the 2006-2007 Season.
Both NBC and CBS maintained their diversity performance grades of B and B+, respectively, while FOX-TV was the only network to go down a grade, from a B to a B-. Torres explained, “FOX has an internal policy that prohibits complete disclosure on statistical information that is readily provided by the other networks. We lament this fact and will continue to press FOX to be more open and forthright moving forward.” On a more positive note, FOX doubled its number of Latino writers and producers by an impressive 57.1%.
However, network diversity performance relative to the American Indian population is not so optimistic. “Behind the camera, American Indians remain invisible,” explained Mark Reed, the National Representative and spokesman for American Indians in Film and Television, “with only 1 writer, 0 directors and 0 producers, we are still misunderstood and underrepresented in front of the camera.”
The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition also cited network shortfalls in their diversity performance for 2007. “We are deeply concerned about the lack of commitment to development deals with APA writers and talent,” said Karen K. Narasaki, Chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, “it has been 13 years since the groundbreaking sitcom, All American Girl,
featuring an Asian American family, and led by Margaret Cho was on the air.” Narasaki explained that without more development deals and a serious investment in APA talent from the networks, the Asian American community has no hope that the rest of the country will have the opportunity to see an Asian American family in primetime any time
PBS In-House Diversification Update
As reported in the August 2007 NHMC Newsletter, the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) began discussions with PBS last year regarding its concerns about the lack of diversity in the PBS workforce. As a result, the PBS management team, led by President Paula Kreger, took the necessary steps to create a new position at PBS – Director, PBS Diversity Initiative - to identify opportunities for PBS to encourage diversity throughout public television.
Haydee M. Rodriguez was appointed to this new position on October 22nd, reporting directly to PBS Chief Operating Officer, Wayne Godwin. This newly created position is a one-year appointment, during which time Ms. Rodriguez will develop a diversity plan designed to engage public television partners and thought leaders and increase diversity in ways that impact public television content. It is expected that the position will continue to be funded by PBS until their diversity objectives are achieved. To this end, the NLMC will be meeting with Paula Kreger, Ms. Rodriguez and other PBS executives on a quarterly basis to evaluate the network’s diversity objectives and performance.
“As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, having a service that reflects the rich diversity of our country is a key aspect of our public service mission,” said Kreger, “I am very pleased that we were able to find a candidate with Haydee’s experience, skill and commitment to lead our diversity efforts.”
Ms. Rodriguez has served as the first female Executive Director to the Hispanic Commission in Maryland since 2005. In this role, she is responsible for the Commission’s overall management and daily operations, and provides senior level staff support to the Commission in planning, as well as in administering Commission initiatives and projects that fulfill its mission to ensure community access to information and services at various levels. Ms. Rodriguez represents the governor and the Commission at community events throughout the state.
11th Annual Impact Awards Gala
Don’t forget to mark your Blackberries for Friday, February 22, 2008 – that’s when the NHMC will host its 11th Annual Impact Awards Gala. This annual black tie event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills brings together important media luminaries from both in front and behind the camera to recognize Latino talent and cultural influence across the industry. Past award recipients include Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, George Lopez, Andy Garcia, Roselyn Sanchez, Jorge Ramos, Moctezuma Esparza, Vicki Carr and the indomitable Edward James Olmos.
“We are once again delighted to present Impact Awards to those extraordinary individuals who continue to express our ethnic richness, talents and culture on the big and small screen,” explained Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, “this is also a night to recognize and applaud those corporations who have demonstrated great commitment to the Latino community as well.”
For more information on the Impact Awards Gala or to purchase a table, please contact Acasia Flores at (213) 534-3026 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Television Transition Update
Beware if you have an “analog” television set, because after February 17, 2009, it could go dark in order to make room for digital television (DTV)! DTV is a technology that uses the airwaves more efficiently, improves picture quality, and provides advanced sound quality and Congress has set a deadline of February 18, 2009 for the transition to take place.
If you have an analog television, how do you switch to DTV? Here are your options:
1. - Purchase a DTV converter box:
Beginning January 1, 2008, households will be able to apply for a maximum of two (2) coupons, each worth $40, by calling this toll-free number: 1-888-388-2009, or going to a not yet determined web site, or by mail. The hearing impaired may call the TTY number 1-877-530-2634 for information in English, and for information in Spanish, consumers can call TTY number 1-866-495-1161 for updates. We will provide more information on this as soon as it’s available.
The coupons can be used only towards the purchase of converter boxes which are expected to cost around $60. Once the coupons are mailed to the household they will expire after 90 days of issuance. Coupons will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis to all U.S. households until $890 million has been expended. Once these initial funds are depleted, a second phase of the distribution of coupons with additional consumer requirements will begin. Coupon requests during the second phase will be limited exclusively to households that receive only over-the-air television service and will require an added certification requirement for the coupon seeker. Affected customers will need to act quickly once the coupons become available and before the federal funds for the coupon program are depleted. If you have any questions on the coupon program, please contact Inez Gonzalez at email@example.com
In early 2008, the DTV converter boxes will be available at participating retailers. We will provide a list of these participating retailers when it is available.
2. - Subscribe to a video service provider:
You can also subscribe to a cable, satellite or telephone company video service provider to continue using analog TV sets. In other words, if you already have cable, satellite or a telephone company video service provider you do not need to do anything regarding the DTV transition even if you have an analog television set. But remember, if you disconnect this service in the future you will still need a converter box for your analog television.
3. - Purchase a Digital TV set:
Purchase a new television set with a built-in digital tuner. All televisions with a digital tuner are able to receive digital signals broadcast by television stations.
The consumer education program has begun and most of us have seen the public service announcements related to this issue. NHMC congratulates Univision Communications, Inc. for taking the lead on educating the public. Univision has started its education program well ahead of the other broadcast networks in order to ensure that all Latinos in the U.S and Puerto Rico are appropriately informed about this complex and important issue. “One third or 7 million people who will be impacted by the digital transition are Spanish language speakers and we are very pleased to know that Univision is educating these consumers in a timely manner on the DTV Transition,” said Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the NHMC.
For more information about the DTV Transition and the Coupon Program please go to:http://www.dtvanswers.com/ or contact Inez Gonzalez, Vice President Media Policy, NHMC,
Hate Speech Udpate
By now we have all heard the ugly rhetoric on radio and television against undocumented Latinos. This revolting exchange is turning into a verifiable increase in hate crimes against all Latinos. The most recent report from the Anti-Defamation League on this issue “Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves into the Mainstream” posted at http://www.adl.org/civil_rights/anti_immigrant/
addresses how the strategy of blaming immigrants for all of society’s ills is now spreading to mainstream America. The FBI released a report this year showing that in 2006 hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 25% since 2004. To read the FBI's press release, go to http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2006/pressrelease.html
. Additionally, the Southern Poverty Law Center will soon release a report on the most egregious of these hate crimes. And as they note, this is not a city, regional, or state occurrence, it is a national one. Moreover, the violence isn’t just against the undocumented; it is also against documented Latinos and citizens because no one can tell one from the other.
NHMC began its campaign against hate speech over a year ago. Our organization has asked Congress to request an update of the 1993 National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Report to Congress: “The Role of Communications in Hate Crimes.” We expect the report will document that there is a direct cause and effect to violence generated by what radio and television is broadcasting. We see it anecdotally. As a result of a request by the NHMC in June of this year,
the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), and Congressman Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, wrote a letter to the NTIA asking the agency to update its 1993 report.
Last week, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) asked Secretary of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez, for an updated on the NTIA study. In his letter Senator Menendez states: "Day after day, we hear rhetoric like: 'the Latino invasion', 'illegal alien lobby', 'amnesty agenda', 'criminal illegal aliens', and 'socio-ethnocentric interest groups' broadcast on our nation's television, radio and internet outlets. I am concerned that this rhetoric could have a harmful effect on the portrayal and safety of our nation's immigrant population, as well as our Latino communities as a whole.”
The update of this study is imperative in order to produce the verifiable data that shows the cause and effect of hate speech and its hate crimes manifestation. Some conservatives suggest that a conversation about hate speech is an attack on talk radio. “This is not a political battle; this is a human-rights issue. It’s about the very serious reports that are coming out from the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others that factually illustrate an increase in hate crimes against certain groups and more specifically towards Latinos,” said Alex Nogales, NHMC President and CEO. “Conservatives can call it what they want, but the bottom line is that we will not stand idly by while our community is under attack.”
The updated report from the NTIA will take over a year to complete. In the meantime, we ask you to join us in standing up against hate speech. Demand that owners of the radio and television stations that allow this kind of bigoted hate speech immediately discontinue it from their programming. Discussion on any subject and issue is important, but discussion should never deteriorate to one-sided bigoted attacks. Hate speech dehumanizes the targeted population and empowers those that hate to turn to violence.
Let’s recall a basic premise. We the people own the airwaves. We the people demand that broadcast licensees who profit from our airwaves use it responsibly and seek to provide varied points of view. Only then can Americans be part of meaningful dialogue and together reach consensus. It is the American way.]]>