Latinos Missing From Key Positions in TV

By Grace Flores-Hughes, Voxxi

Earlier this month, Univision, the most watched Spanish language television network in the United States announced that it was teaming with ABC News to target the ever-growing English- and bilingual-speaking Hispanic American population that numbers almost 50 million.

This new joint venture will provide an English-language news, information and lifestyle network tailored to Latinos. According to the Univision Network president Cesar Conde, "This is adding a new dynamic to the portfolio of Univision: A service in English for our community."

This is, indeed, a novel media idea which deserves both accolades and also close scrutiny. Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Conde in person repeat the same message to a mixed audience of Hispanics and non-Hispanics at the Harvard Club in New York City. Mr. Conde is a remarkable young man who has emerged from being a White House Fellow in the early part of 2000 to leading one of the major networks in the Americas.

While Univision is branching out for the first time since its creation to attract an English speaking crowd, ABC News is also pioneering an effort to reach out to us Americans of Hispanic origin that like our television in English but also like it to reflect our roots.

As a member of the baby boomer generation, I grew up speaking both Spanish and English in my home state of Texas. Yet, my preference -- as it is for many of those of my generation -- is to watch television or, rather, listen to it in English.

Efforts to attract Americans of Hispanic origin by all media are growing and news sources and outlets are getting more creative day by day. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the \ Univision/ABC News merger develops and how their ratings will fare against such rivals as Fox and NBC.

No doubt, if the ratings are there, you can bet we Hispanic Americans will be courted even further by all networks -- not just Univision and ABC News. But the question for us is how will we handle such attention?

I applaud the efforts of Univision and ABC News but I still have a concern that I wrote about in an earlier article this year. And that has to do with the lack of Hispanic Americans in U.S. mainstream media.

Certainly with this new merger, Cesar Conde, an American of Peruvian/Cuban lineage will become the big elephant in the U.S. media world. He is the only American of Latino background in such a position. Hooray for him. But we need more Cesar Condes.

For their part, ABC News is reportedly asking that staff members brush up on their Spanish language skills. Really?!? While ABC News is going after us with such excitement and fervor, they should at the same time search for and recruit Hispanic American talent that speaks both English and Spanish.

Their commitment to reaching our community can also be realized in their hiring practices, not just in messaging.

Sadly, our community is simply not a part of the creative and executive sides of American television production. There is one lonely Latino TV producer in all of mainstream U.S. media. His name is David Puente and he is a producer of the Anderson Cooper Show.

He, too, like Cesar is a remarkable and talented young man but here again he is the only one producing in major mainstream media. So there you have it, one Cesar Conde at the executive level and one David Puente as a producer.

Give me a break, we are 50 million or so strong and we only have two -- count 'em, two -- Hispanic Americans in key positions in television.

We deserve better.

But I am afraid that won't happen unless we make demands. There really are no other options if we are to be better represented by numbers that are more in line with our growing percentage of the population. So our alternative is to make our voices heard. We must demand -- and demand in force and in unison -- until we have more Hispanics at every level in the U.S. mainstream media.

We deserve no less.