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SAG-AFTRA Blasts Telemundo’s ‘Double Standard’ Treatment of Talent in TV Spot

SAG-AFTRA is amping up its six-month-old campaign against NBCUniversal in its battle for unionization of Spanish-language performers on Telemundo productions.

The latest volley came Thursday as it aired a 30-second commercial highlighting the “double standard” that exists between English-language and Spanish-language talent at the network’s parent company, NBCUniversal. Telemundo and Comcast refused to air the Spanish-language spot during the network’s live broadcast of the Premios Tu Mundo awards, but other Spanish-language stations in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles ran the ad.

“Telemundo’s decision to censor 30 seconds of truthful commentary about its working conditions shows just how averse it is to having a transparent discussion about its refusal to fairly compensate Spanish-speaking performers. SAG-AFTRA’s goal is to ensure all talent, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or language, have fair wages and certain protections,” the performers union said.

“As a leading voice for the Hispanic-American community, this should be Telemundo’s priority as well,” SAG-AFTRA said. “As the premier people’s choice award program for Telemundo talent, the media buy during Premios Tu Mundo looked to raise awareness of the double standard with Telemundo’s growing audience. In addition to successfully airing the spot on Mega TV and Estrella TV, among others, SAG-AFTRA also launched the ad in English and Spanish on its website and social media channels.”

The ad said, “It’s time to end this double standard and demand fair treatment for all performers — not just those who speak English.”

A Telemundo spokesperson issued a statement in response: “After legal review, we have concluded the ad did not pass legal standards for issued based advertisement.  We remain committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and will continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive.”

“At Telemundo we support our employees’ right to join and not to join a union. Our talent and employees are capable of deciding what is in their own best interest.  For that reason we believe our talent should exercise their freedom of choice to join a union or not, in a secret ballot election, a democratic process established by the National Labor Relations Board. We are dedicated to Telemundo’s long term success, which has created hundreds of high-value jobs and provided a valuable service to the Hispanic community in the United States.”

The performers union accused NBCUniversal in February of operating with a double standard between Spanish-language and English-language talent hired for productions under the same parent corporation. SAG-AFTRA made that allegation on the heels of NBCUniversal unveiling plans for a new headquarters in Miami for its Telemundo operations, while Telemundo responded by saying it was committed to making itself a “great place to work” for its employees.

SAG-AFTRA then announced on Aug. 3 that it had ramped up its campaign with union president Gabrielle Carteris saying, “Despite Telemundo’s bravado as a champion of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment for the Hispanic-American community, the company’s actions behind the scenes tell a much different story. In addition to treating its Spanish-language talent as second-class citizens, Telemundo has actively employed tactics to dissuade talent from obtaining union protections.”

A spokesperson for Telemundo responded the same day by saying, “We remain committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and will continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive. We are dedicated to Telemundo’s long-term success, which has created hundreds of high-value jobs and provided a valuable service to the Hispanic community in the United States.”

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