Univision's Joe Uva Says Sensationalism and Intolerance Jeopardizes Media Business - Simon Applebaum - MediaBizBloggers

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An hour or so after filing my last MediaBizBloggers column on video-on-demand and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, the fearless leader who gives all us MBBs space to opine e-mailed a thought about another CEO. "Joe Uva's comments deserve a separate blog and headline of their own," Jack Myers suggested. He was referring to Univision Communications CEO, who delivered some choice thoughts at last month's LatinVision conference in New York. Uva runs the biggest force in Spanish-language media, with three top-rated television channels (Univision/Telefutura/Galavision), a radio network, digital media and music outlets. After years on the video-on-demand sideline, Univision finally got into that game a few weeks ago, made possible by retransmission consent deals with its cable and satellite distributors.

Myers' request for a Uva-centric piece came out of an excerpt from his LatinVision presentation offering in passing last column. Let's showcase it again. "When a person is bombarded by media that is bellicose, angry, intolerant and sensationalist, it is natural that people's thinking will follow that downward path. Just as surely, when a person is exposed to media that is thoughtful, open-minded and uplifting, that too can share their perspective," he said. "If we allow the future of our industry to be dictated by the sensationalist paparazzi, the hateful blogger, the indifferent cell phone videographer, the partisan hack...then we are not simply risking the long-term viability of our businesses, we are jeopardizing values people are counting on us to help uphold."

Uva, who joined Univision more than two years ago, notes there's more ways than ever for people to be uplifted or intolerant through the media, whether TV, radio, the Internet, blogs and mobile content, all with the ability to hit the public in a matter of moments. "This consumption of media will shape a person's perspective and influence their behavior," he says.

He also sees the ying and yang of how new media forms can impact society, where one day, "brave young men and women on the blood-soaked streets of Tehran (use) Twitter and Facebook to send messages to the world of their struggle against an authoritarian regime" and on another day, people see a Chicago student's last moments of life, beaten to death "as a crowd of onlookers video the assault with their cell phones and post to YouTube, but won't bother to intervene or call the cops." Think Kathleen Genovese, just updated to the digital age.

"In these sharply contrasting images," Uva goes on, "we see both the potential and the peril of the emerging media future." For people who believe these issues will sort themselves out, or marketplace decisions rule, he's got tough words for them. "I for one don't buy those lines. They are a cop-out."

Latino media, and paying it forward all media, have three ways in their arsenal to impact this environment for society's betterment, Uva believes. Public service projects, ongoing efforts to highlight what people and communities do best, and increased dialogue about issues deserving more coverage, such as hate crimes." We can and we must always aim higher and hold our English-language counterparts to the same standards," he declares.

"The stakes could not simply be higher."

The great news is that there's a massive Latino TV marketplace that can deliver those initiatives regularly to the public--consisting of Univision, Telemundo and so many other channels on broadcast, cable, satellite and overbuild providers. Let's consider a fourth way: producing weekly dramas, variety shows, sitcoms and telenovelas, as well as expanded news coverage and documentary programming, by U.S. talent that showcases Latinos and the citizenry at large at their best, and dealing powerfully with issues before them.

Give Joe Uva acknowledgment for laying down a gauntlet for Latino TV, and all of TV, to travel through. Now take the steps.

***** Two observations from the passing parade:

****Find a bookstore near you and pick up Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. It's a great read on this digital age that should provoke you to transform your read of how you and your business deals with this age powerfully. I see the request from Jack Myers coming.

****Less than 100 days until the next Winter Olympics next February in Vancouver, NBC and Telemundo should make a commitment to insure Latinos and others who prefer Spanish-language Olympic coverage get it at a reasonable hour. That wasn't the case last year for the Summer games in Beijing, where Telemundo viewers were relegated to 2-6 a.m. and 8-10 a.m. Eastern time viewing hours. Great coverage from Telemundo was overlooked because it wasn't in primetime or major daytime. Time for that network and owner NBC to stop excusing why its audience can't see primetime Olympics and follow the Nike road...just do it. If you set up that audience powerfully to watch these athletes as you do for telenovelas, they will come.

Simon Applebaum hosts/produces Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio program covering the TV scene. Tomorrow runs live Mondays/two Fridays a month from 3-4 p.m. EST / noon-1 p.m. PST over www.blogtalkradio.com. The program is available on replay at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04,  and on podcast from www.sonibyte.com. Have a question or comment? Reach out to simonapple04@yahoo.com.

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