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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > General > Spanish-language media needs to do its part to better assimilate

Spanish-language media needs to do its part to better assimilate

LatinaLista — There is no denying that Spanish-language media (SLM) is a strong partner of the Latino community in the United States.

w6.jpgAfter all, it was through SLM that information was disseminated that organized thousands of people to march in the name of immigration reform across the country. Also, it was through SLM efforts that got more Latinos to register to vote.

Offensive Spanish-language show subject of FCC complaint.

Yet, as much as SLM has played a part in stirring the civic conscience of the Latino populace, itself has done a poor job of assimilating into US society. In the very beginning, SLM was seen as a vital link for immigrants who relied more on Spanish than English to understand what was happening in their new country and keep abreast of news back home.

But in the quest to keep those ties to the “Mother Country” fluid, the same racism and sexism that are so prevalent in cultures south of the border, and prohibited in the US, were allowed to infiltrate the country’s airwaves via popular programming either from Central and South America or modeled after them.

FCC restrictions that apply to English-language programs are seemingly waved for Spanish-language shows that blatantly exhibit racism, sexism, profanity, nudity and homophobia in their worst forms — and nobody raised a red flag until now.

To their credit, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and GLAAD have filed a complaint with the FCC concerning a very popular talk show ironically titled Jose Luis Sin Censura (Jose Luis without censorship).

Having seen a clip of the show which appears on the network EstrellaTV, I was appalled at the level of vulgarity and sexism and overall offensiveness of this program. It was simply because it was in Spanish that it has not incurred the monetary wrath of the FCC — and that’s a fault of the FCC.

This show exemplifies why it’s necessary for the FCC to either employ a paid staff or create a board of advisors who understand Spanish and can monitor and judge if these programs meet US standards. If they don’t, then those networks should be put on notice and those shows should be pulled from the airwaves until they retool them to warrant being shown in the US.

According to the complaint:

A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Complainants, as of November 2010 the Commission had received at least 79 indecency complaints about this program, with many of these complaints having been filed in the past two years as EstrellaTV has increased its national presence.

Yet, the FCC did nothing. Why?

If they were waiting for viewers to say something, the majority of them would never file a complaint for one of two reasons — 1. Either they thrive on the vulgarity and nudity exhibited in the show or 2. They accept this as normal because there is not the same kind of oversight in programming in their home countries.

The FCC is certainly at fault for allowing shows on SLM TV and radio that perpetuate dated and offensive stereotypes to continue airing. And it’s the fault of SLM that still broadcasts such offensive media as if they were anywhere but the United States.

It has been refreshing and encouraging to see networks like Telemundo and Univision create a few shows that actually realize that their audience is not on some vacation in the U.S. but has made this country their home. With that, there is a level of conformity to the US way of life that is demanded of these new citizens, and citizens-to-be, and it doesn’t help when programs reinforce social models that are beneath the standards of US life.

It’s time for the FCC to acknowledge that Spanish-language programming is a big part of the US media landscape and needs to be subjected to the same rules and restrictions as all shows.

And it’s time for SLM to start understanding that they can no longer think the rules don’t apply to them because their programming is in Spanish. It’s time for SLM to assimilate — and they can start by treating all their viewers as Americans.

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