NHMC fights b’casters

The National Hispanic Media Coalition and several Los Angeles TV stations are at odds over whether the local broadcasters have complied with minimum Hispanic hiring requirements.

Both sides dispute each other’s 1990 census figures showing the percentage of Hispanics working throughout the market’s five-county reporting area.

At issue is whether the NHMC will move to deny the licenserenewals of KABC-TV , KTTV, KCAL-TV and KLCS, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s UHF station, or force the stations to sign agreements vowing to improve Hispanic employment levels. The minority watchdog organization will meet tonight to discuss its options.

NHMC officials are also weighing what action to take against four New York stations that came in under the minimum Hispanic hiring guidelines in that market.

Among those being singled out is Gotham pubcaster WNET, which had its license renewal procedures severely restricted in 1989 after the NHMC challenged it on nepotism grounds.

The Federal Communications Commission requires stations to have a cross section of the community on their work force. Under its rules, the percentage of Hispanics or any other minority group working at a station must be at least half the level of those employed in the reporting area.

NHMC figures show that Hispanics make up 36% of the L.A. area’s total work force, which would require stations to have a minimum 18% of Hispanics on the payroll.

Based on the stations’ quarterly filings with the FCC, the NHMC found that Hispanics made up only 16.9% of the employees at Fox-owned KTTV, 16.8% at KABC and 15.4% at Disney-owned KCAL.

But KTTV general manager Tom Capra cites numbers that show Hispanics constitute only 34.3% of those employed in the reporting area. He also notes the NHMC is using three-month-old data. The Fox O&O has since hired a number of new employees for its new morning news and information block that will boost its overall percentage of Hispanics to 17.6% — well above the legal minimum, according to Capra.

Still, Capra says he thinks “we can do better” and emphasizes that both the station and NHMC chairwoman Esther Renteria “are working toward the same goal.”

Renteria is particularly upset with KABC, which she says violated an earlier agreement to increase minority hiring.

Station exex could not be reached for comment, but KABC is also expected to have an increased number of Hispanics on the payroll once the revised April-June figures are released.

Exex for KCAL and KLCS did not return calls. The educational station finds itself under attack from the NHMC despite having more Hispanics in its work force than any other L.A. station (21.4%).

Biggest problem

KLCS’ biggest problem is that Hispanics account for only 10.5% of the top four job categories (managers, professionals, technicians and sales), the lowest average in the market.

In the plus column, Renteria says that pubcaster KCET and indie KCOP, which were hit with petitions to deny their licenses five years ago, have dramatically increased Hispanic hiring. The stations finished second and third, respectively, in overall Hispanic employment behind KLCS.

Hiring practice scrutiny

In New York, meanwhile, the NHMC is looking at the hiring practices of WNBC-TV, WCBS-TV and Chris-Craft/United indie WWOR-TV in addition to WNET.

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