AFTRA national Executive Director Greg Hessinger Testifies Before Congressional Hispanic Caucus

AFTRA Urges Industry To Apply Industry Standards to Spanish Language Actors and Broadcast Journalists

Requests Renewed Commitment to FCC Diversity

Washington, D.C. September 8, 2004 - The Congressional Hispanic Caucus – in a Joint Forum of its Task Forces on Corporate America, Technology & Telecommunications, and Arts & Entertainment - heard today from a number of witnesses, including the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, about the ongoing struggle to increase diversity in the English language media and ensure decent wages and benefits for workers in the Spanish language media. 

At a hearing titled “Diversifying Hollywood: Hispanic Representation in Media,” AFTRA National Executive Director Greg Hessinger testified, “In representing Hispanic broadcasters in the English language news sector, AFTRA has been a vocal advocate for strong and enforceable EEO rules at the FCC.  While we all recognize that there has been a strong growth in Spanish language outlets, we cannot look to these companies as an appropriate offset to the lack of effective representation of Hispanic broadcasters in the general market.  Licensees have an obligation, to conduct effective outreach and recruitment for job openings and they should be held accountable for meeting it.” 

In remarks outlining AFTRA’s ongoing organizing efforts in dramatic and news programming, Hessinger added, “This issue is about equality and justice for those trying to make a living as Spanish language performers and broadcast journalists.  They deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as their English language counterparts, and that means recognizing their right to negotiate terms and conditions of employment that are fair, equitable and just. The double standard that is starting to develop is one of ‘separate and unequal,’ and that is a standard AFTRA can never accept.”

AFTRA is currently seeking to cover performers on the telenovela “La Fuerza del Silencio” produced by Fremantle Productions Latin America for NBC/Telemundo.  In addition, AFTRA is in the process of negotiating a first contract on behalf of broadcast journalists at Chicago NBC/Telemundo station WSNS-TV.

Among the specific actions sought by AFTRA at the hearing:

       •Support from the Caucus for both the continuation of FCC EEO Audits and the
        public’s right to have access to the data found within a licensee’s Broadcast
        Station Annual Employment Report.

       •Action from the Caucus to urge NBC/Telemundo to sit down with AFTRA to
        negotiate an agreement for their Spanish Language entertainment
        programming and their broadcast journalists at WSNS-TV in Chicago, and set
        the example for other Spanish-language networks and producers to follow.

AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists - affiliated with the AFL-CIO -- is a diverse union representing 80,000 professionals nationwide who work in news and entertainment programming on television and radio as well as in the sound recording industry, commercials and industrial work, and new technologies such as interactive programming and CD ROMs.

Rebecca Rhine
(415) 391-7510



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