Q&A: FCC’s Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa

In a new study unveiled last week, The Nielsen Co. warned that 13 million homes, or 10.1% of all households, would lose access to most TV signals if the digital transition happened now. Of these, says the study, Hispanics are among the most affected, with over 17% of Hispanic households still receiving their TV signals over the air, compared to 8.8% among white households. With those challenges in mind, the Federal Communications Commission in October 2007 put Keyla Hernández-Ulloa in charge of Hispanic outreach and communications efforts in light of the digital switch. While attending the Hispanic Leadership Institute conference in Chicago last weekend, Hernández-Ulloa spoke briefly to Hispanic TV Update about outreach efforts. An edited transcript follows:

Q: What efforts is the FCC making to inform Hispanic consumers about the digital switch?

A: We provide a lot of outreach to the Hispanic community. For example, on Dec. 4, 2007 we held a DTV Customer Education Workshop, working with some members of the Hispanic community and we exchanged ideas as to how to provide outreach and other non-English language speakers. That particular workshop took place in our Washington, D.C., headquarters and targeted to other non-English speakers.

Q: What other efforts are in place besides the face-to-face workshops?

A: One other way in which we participate is by attending Hispanic conferences and distributing our material and getting the word out. But we also receive many calls from Spanish-language media all across the United States, seeking information and materials about the digital transition.

Q: What has the response been so far among U.S. Hispanics? Would you say they are at least more informed now than in the past?

A: I don’t have specific numbers right now but I know many people have called our 1-888 help line in Spanish and visited our Spanish-language Web site (www.dtv.gov/espanol.html). It is also important to note that the efforts done by the Spanish-language broadcasters [Univision and Telemundo] are a very good way to get the word out [among Spanish-language consumers.] Both networks have included a direct link to the FCC in their dedicated Web sites, and urge viewers to come to us if they have questions and concerns about the transition.

Q: Are there plans to engage in a broader campaign; one that includes Spanish-language TV ads for example?

A: The Congress has recently approved the appropriation of extra funds to the FCC, and the agency is working on a plan to put in place some public service announcements; and Spanish-language PSAs will be part of the plan.