How far away is Albuquerque from Hollywood? – 2005 Writers Program
More on the Nielsen Ratings Issue
Meeting with Comcast Corporation
National Hispanic Cultural Center in New Mexico
Tu Ciudad MagazineCongressman
Baca’s Corporate America Task ForceThe National Conference for Media Reform
Media Policy Watch (This is heavy stuff)
Calendar How to Contact Us
8th Annual Impact Awards Gala
Our annual Gala was held on February 25th at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel and it was a smashing success. The Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, Eva Longoria of the Golden Globe winner Desperate Housewives looked stunning and did an excellent job in moving the program along. Lupe Ontiveros, veteran actress and a matriarch for Latino actors said she was invited to give the benediction for the evening “as long as she promised to behave”. In her familiar outspoken and humorous style she gave a heartwarming blessing when she spoke about the faith she has in her children, our community, our country and even the networks.
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress in Maria Full of Grace, thanked NHMC for holding an event where she could be amongst Latinos, including her family from Colombia, to celebrate with them her Oscar nomination and her Impact Award for Outstanding Performance in a Motion Picture.
The highlight of the evening included Impact Award Winner Jorge Drexler serenading the audience with his Oscar nominated song Al Otro Lado Del Río from the movie The Motorcycle Diaries. Edward Olmos had previously shared with the audience the Academy Awards’ unfair decision not to allow the Uruguayan songwriter to perform his original song during the Oscars. The reason? Drexel, although critically acclaimed in Spain and Latin America, was not well known in this country. The Academy Awards decided instead to have Carlos Santana and Antonio Banderas perform their own interpretation of Drexel’s song. Nevertheless, Oscar night turned out to be a celebration for Drexel and Hispanics all around, as Al Otro Lado Del Río became the first Spanish-language song to win an Oscar. No doubt the Impact Awards Gala attendees also celebrated on Oscar night recalling Drexler’s classical rendition of the song two nights prior.
Ms. Vikki Carr joined by her family including her beloved, elderly mother was clearly touched by the biographical video played that evening depicting her life story. This was followed by a standing ovation tribute, by the Gala guests, that went on for minutes. After receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award, the legendary Vikki Carr sang a rendition of her hit song It Must Be Him impromptu, a cappela, bringing the guests up to their feet again in another heartfelt ovation.
José Rivera also accepted his Impact Award for the Adapted Screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries and Univision’s Ivelisse Estrada accepted the Impact Award on behalf of her company for Univision’s commitment to the Latino community.
Congratulations to Claudia Flores from the NHMC team, for doing a superb job in coordinating this year’s gala.
How far away is Albuquerque from Hollywood? – 2005 Writers Program
Ten graduating writers of the annual Latino Television Writers Program finished up a four-week intense workshop in New Mexico. Sponsored by ABC, NBC and Southwest Airlines, the program is a project of the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) and it is administered by NHMC. The program aims to bring diversity to the Television world by preparing writers to work in Hollywood. The Workshop has enjoyed considerable success since its inception in 2003. Success stories include Victor De Jesus who worked as a staff writer on the NBC primetime drama Third Watch and Maria Escobedo who has earned a one-year assignment at ABC, among others.
The writers, mostly from Los Angeles and New York, went through an arduous process to make it into the highly competitive, ‘total immersion’ program. Housed at the Cinnamon Morning Bed and Breakfast in Albuquerque, New Mexico, each participant wrote one or more scripts for current network shows, which will be used to showcase their writing talent and get them work in Hollywood. The Workshop’s mentor/teacher was Geoff Harris, a former NBC vice-president, who helped develop several primetime comedies, dramas, movies and miniseries for that network. For the last two days of the Workshop, Victor De Jesus flew in from Los Angeles to educate its participants on what it is like to work on staff on a primetime network series such as Third Watch. Unfortunately, Third Watch was recently cancelled. But don’t worry about De Jesus, now that his work is known he has many career options.
We expect that two or more writers will be placed this year, confirming the programs effectiveness. “We want to place our best Latino writers in staff writing positions today, so they can become the producers and show runners of the future,” said NHMC President Alex Nogales.
More on the Nielsen Ratings Issue
As you might recall from our last issue, NHMC continues the fight for the right of the Hispanic population to be properly counted in the Nielsen Ratings. Nielsen Media Research, an unregulated, foreign-owned, monopoly has become the barometer that the television industry in this country uses to learn about the demographics of the television audience and what programs they are watching. The Nielsen Ratings impact the advertising dollars a program can attract; hence, the ratings can make or break a show. Nielsen has a track record of putting the publics’ concerns second to their own. And as a private company they have this right, however, when the stakes are as high as they are on this issue the public concerns need to be protected. Nielsen Media Research has been in the television rating business since the 1950s, however it only started calculating ratings for Hispanic Programs in 1992 and only recently did the company begin counting people of Asian Pacific descent. These are examples of the public interest being secondary for Nielsen. If they don’t have to do it, they won’t.
In response to a letter from Senator Burns (D-Montana), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently stated it has no plans to regulate Nielsen. Senator Burns had written to the FTC stating his concerns on Nielsen’s methodology. “Television ratings are vital public information, because they ultimately determine what programming will be available to the American public” he said, “And Nielsen, as the market is currently constituted, can quite obviously be viewed as an unregulated, or at best partially-regulated, private monopoly provider of this information”. Now that the Senator has received FTC’s response, he plans to hold hearings this year on the reliability of Nielsen’s rating system. After the hearings, the Senator will decide if he should introduce legislation that will create a Congressional oversight committee to monitor Nielsen and its rating practices.
Meanwhile, reacting to outside pressure including that of NHMC and our allies, Nielsen established a task force that recently released its list of recommendations on how Nielsen can improve its measurement of people of color. After the release, Nielsen stated its interest in following the task force’s recommendations. However, the company offered no specifics on how it would implement the recommendations and gave no timetable. NHMC plans to monitor this progress closely and to continue working with Congress, especially the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to inform them of the need of regulating Nielsen in order to ensure fairness and accuracy in its reporting as it relates to people of color.
Meeting with Comcast Corporation
As mentioned to our readers in our last issue, the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) has concerns regarding the lack of diversity at Comcast Corporation. Our e-newsletter article elicited an immediate response from David Cohen, Executive Vice President of the company. Mr. Cohen was disappointed to read our article regarding his company’s lack of diversity and emphasized in his letter the company’s increased efforts in the Hispanic community. Enclosed with the letter was a report titled “Comcast and the Hispanic Community.” The report, unfortunately, did not provide comparative data that would allow for any measurement of progress from the 2002 report. For example, the 2005 report stated that 10.8% of Comcast employees are Hispanic. However, the report did not indicate the percentage of Comcast’s officials and managers that are Hispanic. In 2002, only 2% of officials and managers were Hispanic. This is an area of concern because although 10.8% indicates an effort to have Hispanic representation in a company, a 2% number in the management positions does not. We will not be content with a 10.8% representation of Hispanics in low-level positions.
In April, former Congressman Esteban Torres NLMC Chair, Lisa Navarrette Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the National Council of La Raza, and Alex Nogales and Inez Gonzalez from NHMC met with David Cohen to discuss the above-referenced report. The meeting was contentious to say the least, and the only progress that resulted was that David Cohen promised to provide a complete Equal Employment Opportunity Report that includes aggregate numbers and to arrange for a meeting with the Comcast staff that makes the decisions on what networks are carried by Comcast. Because in addition to having concerns regarding Comcast’s lack of diversity in its Board and workforce, we also have concerns regarding Comcast’s lack of interest in broadly carrying either of the two Latino English language networks, LATV and SiTV. A third network, Voy, can’t even get off the ground because of its inability to get distribution from any of the cable companies including Comcast, the largest cable company in the nation.
Meanwhile, Comcast continues to grow. It recently negotiated, along with Time Warner, the purchase of Adelphia Communications. The deal, if approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizes the sale of the 5th largest cable company (Adelphia with 5.3 million subscribers) to number one (Comcast with 21.5 million subs) and number two (Time Warner with 10.9 million). Comcast and Time Warner will split the properties in order to further concentrate their holdings in key cities and regions across the nation. NHMC along with its national allies will ask the FCC not to approve this sale. This sale will result in 36 million of the 70 million US cable subscribers being served by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In addition to controlling a major percentage of the nation’s broadband capacity, these companies own dozens of channels and services making them the gatekeepers that effectively can deny other cable networks from being on their system, as is the case with LA-TV and SiTV.
NHMC is the newest tenant at the Los Angeles Center Studios facility. The Los Angeles Center Studios is a full-service creative campus housing entertainment and technology related companies. The campus encompasses a 12-story office tower on 20 acres in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, with six 18,000 square foot sound stages and 350,000 square feet of premium office space. Television and film productions take place on-site. Films produced here include The Aviator, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and the soon to be released Dark Water; television series include Numbers and WB’s Blue Collar. Bordered by the 5, 10, 101 and 110 Freeways, we are within 20 minutes of the West Side and all of the major studios.
National Hispanic Cultural Center in New Mexico
In February, Alex Nogales NHMC’s President and CEO was invited to be the keynote speaker at the New Mexico State Senate 2005 Hispanic Culture Day Joint Session. According to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), New Mexico is the third state with the most Latino elected officials, behind Texas and California. In fact, the state has the only Latino Governor and the only Latina state Attorney General in the country. New Mexico residents have also elected Latinos for Secretary of State, State Auditor and State Treasure positions.
Alex began his speech by congratulating the New Mexico’s lawmakers for offering extensive tax breaks and financial incentives to filmmakers who use the state as a production location. “They’re all coming to New Mexico to do their films because of these incredible breaks that you ladies and gentleman have figured out,” said Alex. He also encouraged them to train more Hispanics for emerging jobs in the film and television industries. Alex’s comments were well received, and after the session he was asked by Governor Richardson to write a proposal that would bring more programs to the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The Center is a beautiful $62 million state of the art theatre and film facility which all Latinos can be proud of. NHMC looks forward to developing a great partnership with the Center.
Tu Ciudad Magazine
Pick up a copy of Tu Ciudad, the brand new magazine aimed at English-language Latinos in Los Angeles. It is a bi-monthly publication that we highly recommend. The premier issue, with actress Eva Mendes on the cover, includes a myriad of topics and articles such as “Veterans of the Iraq war come home to tell the tale” and “Latinos & Hollywood”; lists of the best restaurants in town, things to do, and books to read. Watch out for stories by Daniel Vargas and Ayn Carrillo. Oscar Garza is the editor-in-chief, Garza was previously deputy editor of Los Angeles Times Magazine. It’s good writing at its best.
Congressman Baca’s Corporate America Task Force
Alex Nogales, NHMC’s President & CEO, has been asked by Congressman Baca to participate in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Corporate America Task Force that the Congressman Chairs. The Task Force has three primary goals: to increase diversity in corporate boardrooms and senior management; to increase corporate America’s procurement of goods and services from Hispanic-owned businesses; and to increase corporate America’s philanthropic support of Hispanics and Hispanic communities. “The last task force meeting was very productive”, said Alex Nogales. “The goals are very focused and the task force membership is of high caliber. We’ll be able to accomplish much in a short period of time.”
The National Conference for Media Reform
The Second National Conference on Media Reform was held in St. Louis, Missouri in May. It was a sold out event with more than 2,500 people from across the nation and around the world attending. As Danny Schechter Editor of the Mediachannel.org stated, the goal was “to redirect the most powerful arsenal of communication technology humanity has ever known away from serving corporate interests and into the hands of our citizens and public needs.” In his article about the conference, Schechter writes: There were angry hip-hop activists demanding “media justice” and senior citizens alarmed about the current threats to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). There were internet savvy advocates of municipally owned wireless systems and senior level “lions of litigation” who believe that the laws and the courts can be used to safeguard our rights. There were unknown community media producers and some of the best-known voices of liberal left media, like radio revolutionaries Al Franken and Amy Goodman; concerned celebrities like Jim Hightower and Patti Smith; distinguished broadcasters including Bill Moyers and Phil Donahue; two outspoken FCC commissioners; and several members of Congress. NHMC was also present, President Alex Nogales participated as a panelist in the “Holding Media Accountable through Policy and Activism” workshop. The conference was a great opportunity to meet several of our national allies in the Media and Democracy Coalition. This is an event that needs more Latino participation and we will be sure to let you know when the next one is taking place.
Media Policy Watch (This is heavy stuff)
Historically, Latinos have not had a significant impact on Media Policy in this country. NHMC has expanded its mission to include this vital element to our media future. We have witnessed the power of the consumer when they join forces and voice their concerns on an issue. This is what happened in 2003 when Congress, after hearing from millions of its constituents, rolled back the FCC proposed changes in media ownership. Latinos need to become engaged in the media and have their voices heard because media is not just about newspapers, television, radio and films. It is much more then that. It is about our democracy and the right that we have to express our opinions and be able to have access to any type of public information we want. Below are some of the issues that impact and will continue to impact our community for generations to come. Please become engaged with these issues. The Action Plans we suggest will only take a few minutes of your time, and will make a great difference for our children’s future, their children’s future and the future of the Latino community as a whole.
The Issue: Public Broadcasting Receives a “Malicious Wound”
Recently the House Appropriations subcommittee voted to cut funding for public broadcasting, which if passed by the full Congress would radically change programming on National Public Radio(NPR), PBS and other public media. The cuts include a decrease of $23.4 million in federal funds for children’s educational shows such as Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Arthur. If passed, the legislation would deprive millions of American children of valuable educational programming. The subcommittee also voted to “zero out” within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which account for about 15 percent of the public broadcasting’s total revenue. Small stations that serve rural communities and minority audiences are particularly vulnerable to the cuts because they operate on very tight budgets and in many cases they are one of the only stations serving the community.
Suggested Action Plan:WE NEED TO KILL THIS IN COMMITTEE–Please call the following Appropriations leadership and demand they work to restore full funding for public broadcasting immediately. They are our elected officials, do not be intimidate or embarrassed to call. Call Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) at (202) 225-5861 and Vice Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH) at (202) 225-3876 and tell them to restore funding for public broadcasting. Also, send an email to your Congressional Representatives, tell him/her your concerns and ask him/her to take action against this proposal.
The Issue:Defend Local Access
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a former telephone company executive, has introduced a bill (HR 2726) that would let cable and telecom companies shut down municipal and community efforts to offer broadband services. This bill just introduced in Congress would take away the right of cities and towns across the country to provide citizens with universal, low-cost Internet access. Giant cable and telephone companies don’t want any competition which might actually force them to offer lower prices, higher speeds and service to rural and urban areas.
Suggested Action Plan:Go to this Free Press link, Please send a letter opposing HR 2726 and send your letter immediately. Also forward this message to everyone you know, asking them to do the same.
The Issue:New Proposed Rules on Cable-Ownership
The FCC will be taking public comments on the issue of cable-ownership limits. Originally, the FCC had proposed a 30% cap rule. This meant that cable companies could not have more then 30% of the total cable subscribers in the country. However, the courts struck down those rules, stating that the FCC had not adequately justified the need for specific limits. This is why the FCC is now requesting public comment on this issue. Why should you care and why should you take the time to submit your comments? Because you the consumer will be negatively impacted by any further cable consolidation, the US Public Interest Research Group(US PIRG) estimates that the 10 largest cable operators serve about 85% of all cable subscribers. If cable companies are allowed to get any bigger the cable-related problems you are facing now such as high-cost, unsatisfactory customer service and programming choice will only get worse. You need to tell the FCC how much you pay for how little. Tell the FCC the cable cap should go no higher than 30%. You do not need to be an expert in the subject to express your dismay with what is happening in the cable industry. Consumers should be protected, and this is your time to voice your concerns. Please go to the link below and add your concerns to the list. Don’t worry too much about what you say, try to be specific on your issues and just speak from the heart, or from your gut. Bottom line, tell the FCC what you think about cable companies getting bigger, charging more, providing less quality customer service and the poor choice of programming. In fact, if you are interested in watching the two English Latino Networks, SíTV or LA-TV and don’t get a chance to do this because your cable company doesn’t carry them, tell them that as well. Tell your friends about this important issue, we shouldn’t complain if we are not willing to do our part. The Issue: New Proposed Rules on Cable-OwnershipSuggested Action Plan: Submit your comments by July 8th, do it now so you don’t forget. Go tohttp://comments.regulations.gov/EXTERNAL/Comments.cfm?DocketID=05-11473The Issue:SBC/AT & T Merger
The merger in California between SBC and AT&T will create the largest telecommunications company in the country. NHMC is working with the Community Technology Foundation of California (CTFC) in an effort to ensure that the merger results in real benefits for underserved communities and that it does not widen the technology gap for our communities. If the merger is approved, which is very likely, the combined company must return half of the economic benefit of the merger to ratepayers. CTFC’s concerns are 1) that the merged company will deploy its new advanced networks to high-end users only. We need assurances that advanced technologies will be made available to all throughout the state, and not just to the wealthiest communities; 2) We are also concerned about whether the merger will result in affordable choices in communications products and services for all Californians. Communications technologies should be priced so that underserved communities can afford them. Of particular concern are fixed-income seniors and people with disabilities who depend on these technologies for critical services and support; 3) Californians need assurances that the merged company will provide quality services that are necessary to meet the needs of our diverse communities.
Suggested Action Plan: There are ten public hearings taking place in five locations throughout California this month. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) needs to hear first hand about the barriers the underserved are facing and that the economic benefits should be returned to the underserved instead of a small rebate to all customers. Tell your story to the PUC by attending any of the following hearings. For more information on the location of the hearings go towww.ZeroDivide.org
Fresno: June 20 (2pm and 7pm)
Culver City: June 27 (2pm and 7pm)
Anaheim: June 28 (2pm and 7pm)
Riverside: June 29 (2pm and 7pm)
San Diego: June 30 (2pm and 7pm)
The Issue:Low Power FM (LPFM)
LPFM stations are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less. Because of the low wattage LPFMs can only reach up to 3 to 7 miles. This is quite effective for schools, churches and civic organizations where members are clustered together in a small geographical area. For example, a school can produce their own radio program at almost no cost to them and it can be heard within the limited radius. LPFM affords one of the most promising opportunities to increase the diversity of local voices. Currently there are 600 LPFM radio stations that are successfully serving communities across the country with many more in the process of applying. Unfortunately, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has lobbied mightily against LPFMs. They claim “oceans of interference” if the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) grants additional LPFM radio station licensing. Nevertheless, a 2003 report commissioned by the FCC concluded that NAB’s concerns were unfounded. It will now take congressional action to expand licensing opportunities for Low Power FM stations. Prometheus Radio Project is a non-profit organization leading the LPFM fight and NHMC has joined this fight. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has introduce a Senate bill, S. 312, to implement the recommendations of the FCC report regarding low-power FM service and a companion House bill will soon be introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-N.Y.)
Suggested Action Plan: Contact your Senator and ask them to co-sponsor S. 312. As soon as the House bill is introduced, we will ask you to do the same with your Congressional Representative.
The Issue:Local Cable Franchise Agreements
NHMC is part of the Angelenos for Equitable Access to Technology, a consortium of community organizations currently working for the best local franchise agreement that Los Angeles residents can get from the cable companies. In each community there is a Local Franchise Authority (LFA) that is responsible for negotiating a local cable franchise agreement with the cable companies operating in a locality. In exchange for the use of the community’s right-of-way, for the right to dig up our roads to install their wires, the cable companies agree to pay “rent” to a community. Each LFA negotiates its own multi-year agreement but it is important that the residents make sure the LFA is actively negotiating a good deal for them. These agreements have historically consisted of a franchise fee to the local government, a number of public-access channels, and sometimes “I-Nets,” which wire schools, libraries, and public buildings with high-speed Internet access. You should be aware when your franchise agreement expires, and be ready to organize your community to make demands to the LFA of what you want to see included in the franchise agreement.
Suggested Action Plan: Go to Free Press’ link http://www.freepress.net/defendlocalaccess/=whatsatstake and towww.grassrootscable.org to learn more about cable franchise agreements and if you would like assistance in organizing in your community around the issue of cable franchise agreement, contact Inez Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Issue:Digital TV (DTV) Transition
Digital television is a new technology that uses the airwaves more efficiently, improves picture quality, and provides advanced sound quality. The government is set to require a firm date – possibly December 31, 2008 – when all broadcast signals will have to be sent digitally. The major factor for the rapid move on this legislation is that DTV will make the use of spectrum more efficient and will allow Congress to auction some of the freed up spectrum to wireless companies for high-speed Internet services. Such an auction will bring in billions of dollars to the federal coffers, money needed to reduce the country’s current deficit. NHMC will advocate for consumer subsidies that will not leave any television owner in the dark. We will also fight for spectrum set asides for unlicensed uses and demand from broadcasters, that will be getting the benefit of five additional channels, more time for quality public programming.
Suggested Action Plan: If you are purchasing a television be sure your TV has a digital tuner. Although analog TVs will still function, they will be limited after the DTV transition. There is not much else for you to do on this issue right now, but we will keep you informed.
Calendar of Events
76th LULAC National Convention June 27 – July 2nd, Little Rock, Arkansas
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) invites you to participate in the 76th Annual LULAC National Convention & Exposition titled Emerging Latino Communities: Strengthening America. As the premier Hispanic convention, the LULAC National Convention draws over 10,000 people each year including top leaders from government, business, and the Hispanic community.
Rick Najera’s LATINOLOGUES™: A Comedy About Life in America June 24th, 8:00 p.m.
At the Wiltern LG, 3790 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90010. Due to popular demand, Rick Najera’s award-winning hit comedy will return to Los Angeles with one performance only. LATINOLOGUES is a hilarious, live performance of comedic and poignant monologues about Latino life in America, written, directed, and created for stage by sketch comedy pioneer Rick Najera. Ticket information at www.ticketmaster.com, Box Office: 213.380.5005 or 213.388.1400
6th Annual Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) ugust 3 – 6, New York City
Billed as the biggest event in the world for alternative Latin music, LAMC provides networking opportunities with the genre’s leading artists, label executives, journalists, managers, retailers and programmers. Among the events planned for LAMC 2005 are free concerts at Central Park Summerstage and Celebrate Brooklyn Festival! at Prospect Park. The conference will feature live performances by Kinky, Aterciopelados, Plastilina Mosh, Coheed & Cambria, Natalia Lafourcade, Moenia, Bebe, Nortec Collective, JD Natasha, Los Amigos Invisibles, & others.
NOSOTROS Golden Eagle Awards August 5
This is a prestigious Hollywood tradition, hosted by Ricardo Montalbán which honors Latino Artists who have excelled in their careers.
Tejano Music National Convention 2005ust 12-14, Las Vegas
The music conference will convene more than 4,000 industry and fan delegates and will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The three-day convention sponsored by Gibson Guitars and BNET Radio.Com., serves as a “meeting ground” to discuss current issues, trends, and set forth a platform towards the growth of Tejano music.
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The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a 35-year-old non-profit organization that builds bridges, creates opportunities, resources, and connects Latinx talent with the entertainment industry.