“Now is the time for all networks and other media outlets to address this longstanding issue of significant Latino underrepresentation”
Hollywood — Seventeen years ago the National Latino Media Coalition (NLMC) signed a Memoranda of Understanding with ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX to create opportunities for Latinos at the networks. The end goal was to radically transform the media landscape to one that is inclusive of American Latinos by increasing Latino employment both in front and behind the camera. Unfortunately, there have not been significant enough strides made since 1999 by these networks and now NLMC is ready do aggressively take them to task.
Earlier this month Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Secretariat of the National Latino Media Council, promised to “…protest in very loud, angry voices our continued exclusion”. He continued by calling out the decicion makers, “TV and film studios must make inclusion a priority and they can start by involving decision makers at the highest levels of their operations. Those individuals must be empowered to make the choices that will provide new pathways and opportunities for talent of color, especially Latinos, behind and in front of the camera.”
In 2016 the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism through their Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative in its assessment of inclusion in film and TV, found that only 5.8% percent of speaking or named characters were Hispanic/Latino, versus 17% of the total U.S. population; across broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, just 12.6% of directors came from all underrepresented racial/ethnic groups combined, versus 37.9% of the population.
Last week Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF and chair of the National Latino Media Council (NLMC), and Alex Nogales, secretariat of NLMC and President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, met with the Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation, Leslie Moonves, and other top executives at the network, to take immediate action to increase Latino diversity and inclusion at the network.
“Now is the time for all networks and other media outlets to address this longstanding issue of significant Latino underrepresentation, for the outlets’ own future prosperity as much as anything,” said Saenz, chair of the National Latino Media Council. “CBS has now taken strides to address this issue, and others should follow the CBS example.”
The meeting was convened to evaluate current benchmarks and agree to commitments that will ensure that Latinos are well-represented behind and in front of camera at CBS. The results were promising according to Nogales. “This shows that great strides can be made when executives at the networks make hiring Latinos a priority and we hope that every other network considers them an example to follow,” and pointed out that this year CBS has improved from their inclusion of latinos last year, in the following way:
- Doubled the number of Latino regular actors from 2016;
- Doubled the number of Latino writers since 2016;
- Agreed to order scripts from Latino content creators or shows Latin themes and auspices; and
- Agreed to hear an additional 10 pitches from ten Latino writers/producers.”
“Latino audiences, who make up nearly 18 percent of the population-and advertisers eager to reach them-will find a lot to be excited about already at the network. We are continuing our talks with CBS about a pilot focusing on Latinos, additional Latino directors and episodes airing on the network, as well as Latino representation in their casting offices, procurement business, and creative entertainment executives,” Nogales added.
The hope of the NLMC is to be able to sit down with decision makers at each of the other networks to have an open discussion on what they are doing so that diversity at their networks is not relegated to just black and white, rather inclusive of Latinos and other persons of color. To that end, NHMC has assembled the NHMC Action Network, a group of influencers working both inside and outside of the entertainment industry, with the mission of supporting changes that make media as diverse as the world really is.
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