Thursday, May 01, 2003

Who keeps Latino culture down? We do, we do.

In a full page open letter to Karl Rove published in yesterday's Washington Times, New York State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Jr., chairman of the National Hispanic Policy Institute claims that if the Federal Communications Commission approves Clear Channel's acquisition of Univision, non-Latinos will come to control Latino culture. The letter reads in part:
Dear Karl:

As staunch supporters of President Bush, we have been heartened by your public statements about reaching out to the Hispanic-American community. Coming from the chief White House Advisor on political affairs, your words raise the hopes of every American of Hispanic heritage.

The question is, do your statements reflect a true concern by the Bush Administration for the interests of our community or are they only political rhetoric?

. . .The issue before the FCC is whether to NON-Hispanic media giants - Clear Channel and Univision - will be allowed to dominate and control the nation's Spanish language radio market, and, in turn, Latino culture.

Clear Channel, as you know, is owned by Lowry Mays, the Texas-based media tycoon who boasts openly of his influence in the Bush White House. Univision is owned by Jerry Perenchio, the California media czar, who like Mays, is a heavy contributor to Republican campaigns.

Fact: Neither Clear Channel nor Univision lists a single Hispanic among its top corporate executives or board members. What is even more disturbing to the Hispanic-American community is that the owner of Univision is the same Jerry Perenchio who openly campaigned on behalf of California's anti-Hispanic Proposition 187 during the Pete Wilson years.

Fact: A poll taken by Opiniones Latinas shows that an overwhelming majority (87%) of Hispanic-Americans belive that Spanish-speaking radio stations owned by Latinos are better able to understand and respond to the needs of Hispanic listeners.

Yet if the Clear Channel-Univision alliance is approved, independent Hispanic station owners across the country will face a future of being either devoured or crushed by a NON-Hispanic media monopoly[. . .]
This letter has to be a new low. Gonzalez is demanding that the government deny a legitimate business merger on strictly racial grounds. He calls Jerry Perenchio, a businessman who earned his position by hard work and intelligence a "czar." He claims that it is impossible for non-Latinos to grasp the interests and culture of those they would seek to have as radio listeners. If that were true, wouldn't it spell the end to the Clear Channel-Univision alliance, as radio listeners flocked to media that better represented their tastes?

That Gonzalez does this all so openly and defiantly makes his demand all the more obnoxious. The White House ought to answer this letter with a resounding "no." It is one thing to seek new members for the Republican Party among neglected groups. It is another thing altogether to accommodate extortion demands such as this.

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