October marks the continuation of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and expanded to a month-long commemoration in 1988. Cable operators and programmers traditionally mark the month by honoring the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans with special events and viewing options.
The month also has become a time for the cable industry – as a whole – to assess the status of and make a commitment to diversity.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Texas Cable Association members Altice USA and Comcast have two long-standing events that touch Texas:
- Altice USA conducts an annual essay contest that asks middle and high school students to describe “a Latino, past or present, with whom you would choose to spend a day and explain why.” Submissions are due Oct. 31. The grand prize winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship, while three finalists each will receive an iPad Mini.
- Comcast recently paid tribute to 11 Houston area volunteers at its Hispanic Hero Awards gala in Houston. Honorees demonstrated an outstanding commitment to make a difference in the areas of volunteerism, mentorship, advocacy and civic engagement. Each were featured in a public service announcement and received a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
Numerous cable programmers and operators recognize Hispanic Heritage Month with special television offerings or On Demand programming. For example, Comcast’s Newsmakers is focusing on critical issues at the forefront of the Hispanic experience in the United States. If you’re a Comcast subscriber, you can watch on Xfinity on Demand. Nonsubscribers can view the programming at ComcastNewsmakers.com.
Highlights among shows was the 33rd Annual Imagen Awards which honored “the positive portrayal and creative excellence of Latinos and Latino cultures on screen.” The 18 award categories covered television, film, advertising and web. Find a list of all the winners here.
Even as the Imagen Awards celebrated Hispanic contributions in the entertainment industry, surveys find there is still room for improvement for the representation of Hispanics and other people of color on-screen and behind the scenes.
One look at inclusion is the annual Hollywood Diversity Report. The 2018 edition found that while people of color make up almost 40 percent of the U.S. population, they are underrepresented in all entertainment areas, including lead roles, writers and directors. For example, Latinos claimed just 2.7 percent of all top film roles and 5.6 percent of roles in cable scripted shows in 2016, the year examined by the most recent report.
The full report offers a detailed look at many facets of the industry.
More broadly in the cable industry, Hispanic Heritage Month concludes with Diversity Week, a time for the industry to reaffirm its commitment to diversity at all levels. Conferences during the week are designed to spark discussion on increasing diversity across the spectrum of cable. The week (and month) ends with a dinner by the Walter Kaitz Foundation to raise money to support and produce programs that increase diversity in cable’s workforce, supplier base and programming.
Every two years, the cable industry takes a deep dive into its workforce diversity demographics. The most recent survey, released in September 2017, found that representation of minority professionals in the cable industry “exceeds the national benchmark at all levels” except on boards of directors, where representations “is on par with the national benchmark.”
For example, Hispanics/Latinos comprise 5 percent of the boards of directors for both cable operators and programmers, equal to the national benchmark and an increase of 1 percent since the 2015 survey. More survey results, broken down by race/ethnicity, can be found here.
Based on the results of the workforce diversity survey, NAMIC, one of its authors, named Comcast and Charter Communications (both Texas Cable Association members) among the top cable operator employers for people of color.