Spanish-Language TV Just as Risqué as
During the 1990s, the
Hispanic population in the U.S. grew by 58 percent nationwide. But while
Hispanic-Americans constitute a growing percentage of TV households, little
attention has been paid to the content of the programs targeted specifically to
that audience. According to Nielsen Media Research, the audience - even among
young people - for Spanish-language television continues to grow. By contrast,
audiences for the major English-language broadcast television networks are
shrinking. Given that more and more American children are growing up watching,
and being influenced by, the programs offered on Spanish-language networks
(primarily Telemundo and Univision), the programming offered by those networks
warrants careful examination.
Telemundo and Univision
are no fringe networks. Viewing of Spanish-language television by U.S. Hispanic
audiences accounts for 49% of their total prime time viewing of
advertiser-supported television. Univision reaches more than 97% of U.S.
Hispanic television households; Telemundo reaches 91% of those households.
The PTC examined three
weeks (June 3rd through June 23rd, 2003) of prime time
programming (8-11 p.m. ET/PT) on the two biggest commercial Spanish-language
networks, Univision and Telemundo. The study period covered 99 separate shows
over a period of 104 hours of programming.
Both Univision and
Telemundo are substantially less violent than English-language networks.
Univision featured 1.31 instances of violence per hour, while Telemundo
featured 1.81 instances per hour. (For reference, in the Special Report
TV Bloodbath, the PTC documented a per-hour average of 4.56 instances of
violence during prime time on the six major broadcast networks.)
Sexual content in both
networks is comparable to that of English-language networks. Univision
included 4.34 sexual references per hour, while Telemundo 3.74. (For
reference, in the Special Report Sex Loses its Appeal, the PTC
documented an average of 4.59 instances of sexual content per hour during
prime time on the broadcast networks.)
There is significantly
less foul language on Spanish-language television during prime time than on
its English-language counterparts. Univision registered 0.41 profanities per
hour, while Telemundo's programming averaged only 0.32. (The PTC documented
an average of 6.62 instances of foul language per hour on the six broadcast
networks during the prime time in The Blue Tube.)
Of the two
Spanish-language networks, Univision had the highest levels of foul language
and sexual content while Telemundo had the most violent programming.
The 10-11 p.m. time
slot on Univision contained the most violence, with 2.06 violent instances
per hour. On Telemundo, the 9-10 p.m. time slot contained the most violence
(3.83 instances per hour).
programs like Sábado Gigante, which runs from 8-11 p.m., contained
the highest levels of sexual content on Univision. Such programs averaged
9.11 instances of sexual content per hour. On Telemundo, the 8-9 p.m.
Family Hour had the highest levels of sexual content, with 6.58 instances of
sex per hour.
The 8-9 p.m. Family
Hour on Univision contained the highest levels of foul language, an average
of one profanity per hour. Overall, Telemundo had far fewer profanities,
and such language occurred with the greatest frequency (0.54 instances per
hour) during the 10-11 p.m. timeslot.
The highest levels of
sexual content occurred on the popular variety show Sábado Gigante on
Univision, and the adolescent-oriented telenovela Los Teens on
TV contains less offensive content than the six major U.S. broadcast networks,
but that doesn't mean the prime time programming on Telemundo and Univision is
appropriate for family audiences. Several popular programs airing on Telemundo
and Univision can be extremely offensive.
Shows like Univision's
Sábado Gigante -- the longest-running weekly TV program in history -- is
overflowing with raunchy jokes, women in skimpy clothes, and vulgarity.
Telemundo does not do much
better. In its attempts to adjust its programming formats to suit an American
palate, Telemundo blends the traditional telenovela format with teen elements,
producing a hybrid such as Los Teens. This show was so charged with
sexual dialogues that it almost looked like an irresponsible and flawed course
in sexual education, a syllabus filled with double standards and misconceptions.
networks seem to favor all that is shocking and sensationalistic, either with
telenovelas and general interest shows such as Univision's Casos de la Vida
Real, Aquí y Ahora, or Telemundo's Ripley's and specials such
as Carnaval do Brasil.
It is sad that Spanish
networks knowing that Hispanic families tend to watch TV together, refuse to
raise the bar and don't have anything better to offer them than loud and
off-color programming. Sponsors, knowing that Hispanic families sit together in
front of the TV set, should support programs with deeper and more responsible
content that encourage family dialogue in a productive manner. It would be
commendable if popular icons such as Don Francisco, who already have an
incredible following, abandoned their tendency to impudence and used their image
and position to promote more wholesome entertainment.