SAG-AFTRA Calls Out NBCUniversal’s Double Standard Against Spanish-Speaking Performers

Comcast & Telemundo Refuse to Air Spot on Double Standard for Spanish Speaking 

sa_logo_1200x630_v1_0Los Angeles, CA —  The problem of the double standard for U.S. Latino performers has been ongoing for over thirty years, some would argue longer.  There have been efforts from within the performers union SAG and AFTRA separately, and now as a united front, with Latino union actors throughout the years insisting on parity.  SAG-AFTRA is now addressing the problem publicly.  In its ongoing effort to organize Spanish-language television, SAGAFTRA sent another message to Telemundo Thursday night by airing a 30-second commercial highlighting the double standard that exists between English-language and Spanish-language talent at the network’s parent company, NBCUniversal.

While Telemundo and Comcast refused to air the Spanish-language spot during the network’s live broadcast of Premios Tu Mundo,other Spanish-language stations in Miami, New York and Los Angeles ran the ad.

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Telemundo’s decision to censor 30 seconds of truthful commentary about its working conditions shows just how averse it is to having a transparent discussion about its refusal to fairly compensate Spanish-speaking performers. SAGAFTRA’s goal is to ensure all talent, regardless of their race, ethnicity or language, have fair wages and certain protections. As a leading voice for the Hispanic American community, this should be Telemundo’s priority as well.

As the premier people’s choice award program for Telemundo talent, the media buy during Premios Tu Mundo looked to raise awareness of the double standard with Telemundo’s growing audience. In addition to successfully airing the spot on Mega TV and Estrella TV, among others, SAGAFTRA also launched the ad in English and Spanish on its website and social media channels.

Rather than hiding the truth from its growing audience, Telemundo should embrace an open dialogue and ensure its Spanish-speaking performers are treated equally—especially as the network enjoys unprecedented growth.

Since taking ownership of Telemundo 15 years ago, NBCUniversal has made a multimillion-dollar investment in the network, including development of a facility in Doral, Fla., which promises to increase the network’s domestic production of Spanish-language entertainment programming. The investment has paid off, with Telemundo claiming the top ratings spot over rival Univision for the last five consecutive weeks—the first time in the network’s history.

In an internal letter dated August 17, 2016, Telemundo President Cesar Conde credited talent with helping the network reach this new milestone, saying: “This is a historic achievement of which we are all very proud. Clearly, Telemundo talent has played a very important role in this achievement.”

But this record growth hasn’t stopped NBCUniversal from allowing Telemundo to pay Spanish-speaking performers less than half of their English-speaking counterparts at NBC. Telemundo performers also don’t receive health benefits or other basic protections routinely provided to English-speaking performers at NBC.

In addition, despite the network’s success and multimillion-dollar revenue from global syndication of Telemundo-produced telenovelas, the network has failed to compensate its performers for the repeated use of their work—protections currently enjoyed by English-language performers working under a SAGAFTRA contract at NBCUniversal.

SAGAFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.

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