Thursday, June 19, 2003

Rights and Reason: National Hispanic Policy Institute strikes again

Despite not even having a web page, the National Hispanic Policy Institute (NHPI) apparently has a budget large enough to pay for a host of full page newspaper ads opposing the merger between Univision and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation. The latest “Open Letter to Theodore Roosevelt Republicans” appeared today in the Washington Times. Here's the angle, with appropriate Fisking:

Teddy Roosevelt: He was America’s Number-One crusader against business monopolies held by what he called the malefactors of great wealth.

Our twenty-sixth president was a Republican who believed in the idea that true free enterprise can only exist when independent entrepreneurs aren’t threatened with extinction by greedy corporations and trusts.

Believed it, fought for it, made it part of the Republican Party creed.
And was 100% wrong. Despite all the graft and political corruption around him, Roosevelt never recognized that free enterprise is not protected when government regulators are given the power to overturn the economic decisions of businessmen.

Question: What would Teddy Roosevelt say if he were alive today and saw his fellow Republicans in the White House and in Congress stand idly by while a federal agency paved the for a monopoly takeover of the nation’s Spanish-language media? A takeover engineered and advanced by a handful of media billionaires.
For all his errors, at least Roosevelt attempted to apply a reasonableness standard to antitrust. One has to wonder if Teddy Roosevelt would consider NHPI’s naked attempt to use antitrust to protect its racial fiefdom reasonable.

Fact: The Federal Communications Commission last week handed down a pro-monopoly edict on national media ownership.
Hardly. Re-regulation is not deregulation.

And that’s not all. The same FCC - controlled by a three-member Republican majority – is now being asked to approve a proposed merger of Univision and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation that would hand-deliver 70 PERCENT of the countries Spanish-language media market to two media giants – Univision and Clear Channel.

That’s right, 70 PERCENT! A merger, in other words, that would allow a pair of NON-Hispanic billionaires, Jerry Perenchio of Univision and Lowry Mays of Clear Channel, HBC’s largest shareholder, to dominate the nation’s Spanish-language media market and in turn, Latino culture. It would allow wealthy major shareholders of HBC such as Warren Tichenor and CEO Mac Tichenor to benefit enormously, but not Hispanic citizens.
This is where NHPI’s racism and anti-wealth mentality reveals itself in full flesh. Just how would Jerry Perenchio and Lowry Mays continue to profit? Only by serving the interests of their customers. Does one have to be of the same race to provide goods and services to others of a certain race? The answer is no, but NHPI seems to say yes.

FACT: A poll taken by Opiniones Latinas shows that an overwhelming majority (87%) of Hispanic-Americans believe that Spanish-language radio stations owned by Latinos are better able to understand and respond to the needs of Hispanic listeners.
So what? 87% of any group does not have the right to violate the property rights of anyone.

Yet if a Univision-HBC merger is approved, independent Hispanic station owners across the country face a future of being devoured or crushed by an FCC-blessesed NON-Hispanic monopoly.
Another revealing statement. If the FCC blessed a “Hispanic monopoly” that was seen to play to the advantage of Democrats, would NHPI oppose the merger? Unlikely.

Question: Given the vital importance of this issue to the Hispanic media market, is it conceivable that the FCC would fast-track the Univision-HBC merger behind closed doors and without a single public hearing? And why, despite repeated professions of “outreach” has the Hispanic community not heard Republican voices raised against the threat of this monopoly to Spanish-language media? Who are these super-rich beneficiaries and why are their profits more important than the culture and will of Hispanic citizens?
Who are the beneficiaries of NHPI’s aggressive lobbying campaign? I suspect NHPI’s efforts have less to do with the Univision-HBC merger and more to do with the Democrats’ anger over Republican inroads with the Hispanic voters. The mere fact that Republican sympathizers are going to own a major player in Hispanic media represents a massive threat to Democracts.

FACT: Teddy Roosevelt’s portrait is prominently displayed at the White House. Isn’t it time to begin matching words with deeds?
I’ll make that one easy—let’s move Teddy Roosevelt’s portrait to a White House broom closet and replace it with the portrait of an American leader who defended the rights of businessmen. Anyone have any recommendations?

State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Jr. (NY)
President, National Hispanic Policy Institute
Gonzalez doesn’t mention that he is a Democrat, which one would think would be a pretty important fact in a letter addressed to Republicans.

NHPI’s lobbying campaign reveals the extent of the Democrats’ fear of Republican gains in the Hispanic community. The Univision-HBC merger is not a big deal, unless of course you believe the fate of your party hinges upon it. While it’s unlikely any Republicans are going to be swayed by NHPI’s attempts to derail the merger, one has to wonder about the lager forces in play here.

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