MSO, Programmer Diversity Gets New Scorecard at Town Hall

The latest analysis of ethnic and gender diversity at companies in the cable industry is coming this week (Sept. 29) as a centerpiece of the industry’s annual Diversity Week.

Every two years, the Women in Cable Telecommunications PAR (Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Integration) initiative and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement) effort take workforce-related surveys at about two dozen cable-TV providers and programmers.

The surveys released in 2013 found that 34% of cable’s fulltime employees were women, down from 39% in 2003, when WICT began its PAR research. The NAMIC AIM research found people of color comprised 38% of the surveyed groups, up 5 percentage points from 2011 — but at the executive or senior level of manager or executive, the percentage had declined to 15% from 19%.

The reports in 2013 noted that people of color were promoted less frequently and had a higher turnover rate (or left companies) more often than white employees, but concluded that robust hiring, if it continued on the pace seen in 2012 (when the surveys were done), would keep overall minority employment levels at around 25% over the next five years. The new results may shed light on whether that proved true.

The research will be announced and debated at the joint town hall session with industry leaders including National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell; Gail Greenfield, Ph.D., principal, Mercer; Suzanne Malveaux, anchor, CNN; David Cohen, executive vice president, Comcast; Pat Esser, president, Cox Communications; Mary Meduski, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Suddenlink Communications; Stacy Green, executive vice president, global human resources and facilities, A+E Networks; and Paul Richardson, senior vice president, HR, ESPN, and chief diversity officer, The Walt Disney Co.

NAMIC’s 29th annual conference will continue throughout the day and into Wednesday, focusing on the continued growth and importance of diversity in an ever changing television industry, NAMIC president Eglon Simons told The Wire. Keynote speakers for the conference include legendary television producer Norman Lear; heralded filmmaker Spike Lee and New York Times best-selling author Eddie Huang.

Spanish-language media company Univision Communications will be feted during the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s annual fundraising dinner on Wednesday as the organization’s “Diversity Champion.” Kaitz Foundation executive director David Porter said the program will emphasize and encourage individual action to help further foster diversity within companies. Kaitz funds pro-diversity organizations including WICT and NAMIC and provides funding for the PAR and AIM surveys, which are conducted by Mercer.

Kicking off the week on Monday will be WICT’s Leadership Conference, which will feature a lineup of industry leaders and shakers, from opening keynote speaker Hoda Kotb, of NBC’s Today, to closing session speakers TV One chairman Alfred Liggins; TLC personality Stacy London; Suddenlink chief programming officer Kathy Payne; HGTV host Egypt Sherrod; and FBI agent Joe Navarro.

Filmmaker Leslye Headland will be the featured guest at WICT’s sold-out Touchstones Luncheon.

‘The Daily Show’s’ Trevor Noah Vows to Pause Before Opining

Trevor Noah, who starts today (Sept. 28) as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, got a taste of the fast-paced political breaking-news cycle Friday morning, when word of House Speaker John Boehner’s impending resignation came out during a press breakfast event featuring Noah and the late-night show’s writers.

When a reporter asked what he would have done had he heard the news while taping The Daily Show, Noah — who takes over the late-night show one month after Jon Stewart ended his 16- year hosting run — said he would have gathered with his staff of writers to determine the best course of action and would not have shot from the hip.

“I’m a big fan of thinking before I say or react to anything, so that’s what we would be doing now — talking and reminiscing on our favorite John Boehner moments,” Noah said.

The 31-year-old South African comedian touched on other topics of political interest leading up to his Daily Show premiere.

On his political affiliation: “I consider myself a progressive person … I try to improve myself and by and large improve the world that I’m in.”

On finding foils, similar to Stewart’s targeting of Fox News Channel: “I don’t have targets yet, which I think is the right way to approach it. I get to forge my own relationships and discover the person that I will grow to loathe and hate. I’m not coming in with any preconceived notions as to who or where I think my battles should be waged.”

On Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump: “He’s an interesting one, because the truth of the matter is he doesn’t say much, and what we’re really doing is enjoying the spectacle of it all. We’re indulging it, but at some point our indulgence may come back to bite us, but we’ll see.

“Obviously, Donald Trump is welcomed on the show, and I would love to have him on,” Noah added.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.