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TV Industry Needs To Produce More Quality Multicultural Programming: NAMIC Panelists

9/15/2010 2:33 PM Eastern

New York -- With the continued growth of the multicultural population in the U.S., the television industry should be producing more quality, diversity-themed television programming that reflects the views and culture of multicultural audiences, according to several television executives speaking at the 24th Annual NAMIC conference here Wednesday.
Panelists speaking at the programming-focused "The New Original" general session lamented the lack of television shows targeted African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American viewers. Ligiah Villalobos, writer/producer for Nickelodeon's animated toddler-targeted series Go Diego Go, said the networks are still unwilling to take risks in developing such programming even though there's a desire among multicultural audiences to see their images and stories on the small screen. 

Villalobos added that the U.S. Latino population is expected to hit 50 million in the near future, yet there are no Latino-themed primetime shows on the major English-language cable and broadcast television networks.
"There's a myth that a lot of the studios believe that Latinos just want to assimilate, and that's why they're very fearful of developing programming specifically targeting us," she said. "What you try to do [as producers] is try to prove to them that our people want to see our shows."
Geraldine Moriba, executive producer for CNN's In America documentary franchise, said that programming featuring multicultural actors and stories can also have appeal to all audiences. She noted the network's Black In America and Hispanics In America series told stories that viewers from all cultures can relate to. CNN is in the development stages of an In America series focusing on the Muslim community told from the perspective of one mosque -- although she said it will not focus on the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City.
"What we've demonstrated is that if you tell a good story that has breaking news it doesn't matter who its about - people will watch," she said.
Advances in technology such as high-definition and 3D programming,  as well as the Internet and mobile platforms, have opened up even more opportunities for multicultural writers and producers to better illustrate and distribute programming.
But Loretha Jones, BET's president of original programming, said its not enough to just put multicultural programming on the air. Such content has to be of high-quality to appeal to both targeted and mainstream viewers.
"Quality and color are equally important," said Jones. "You cannot say that just because something is black we are going to be satisfied and not demand that you give us qualitative opportunities to present our perspective."

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