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Hispanic TV Summit: Hispanics Gaining Momentum On TV

The television and film industries have begun to recognize the value and appeal of Hispanic television, but executives speaking at the Hispanic TV Summit say that there needs to be a greater Hispanic presence both in front of and behind the camera.

“When I go into a room and hear people talk about diversity, I’m not interested in it being some kind of pro-social [effort]; it makes total business sense,” said Ben DeJesus, president of production company NGL Studios, speaking at Thursday's Hispanic TV Summit. “I think we are the mainstream at this point, but we just want to play in the big arena.”

Jaime Davila, president and co-founder of Campanario Entertainment, said that the industry is actively looking for stories featuring Latino images, but it’s still an uphill battle to get such stories greenlit to series and on the air.

“The broadcast networks actually want to tell those stories,” he said. “It’s still really hard to sell these shows … but I will say that they do care about diverse storylines.”

Even with the unprecedented number of scripted programming offered on broadcast and cable networks, there’s still a dearth of Hispanic-themed content available for Hispanic viewers, which make up a significant part of the total viewing audience, according to Davila.

“Everybody in Hollywood talks about peak TV and there’s too much TV, but for all of those thousands of shows, I can count on my hand how many are Hispanic shows," including Starz's Vida and Netflix's One Day At A Time, he said.

In order to alter the dynamics of what is developed and distributed across the television landscape, Noticias Telemundo senior vice president of digital Romina Rosado believes that there needs to be more Hispanic executives in decision-making positions.

“Right now the decision makers are mostly middle-aged white guys, so there needs to be  more diversity behind the camera where the power is … that’s where we need to focus on,” she said.

Added La Calle TV CEO Jorge Viera: “Everybody has a story of success in the Hispanic community so we have to address … how to get those stories out.” 

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.