Friday, September 9

ABC TELEVISION'S TARGET AUDIENCE

I read with interest this morning an Associated Press (AP) article by Lynn Elber that ABC Television will offer in Spanish this Fall all of its primetime entertainment programs.

The move is an acknowledgment of the expanding U.S. Hispanic population and its potential as a source of viewers. Previously, "George Lopez" was the only ABC series that aired in both English- and Spanish-language versions.

"We wanted to move beyond toe-dipping and really dive in," ABC entertainment chief Stephen McPherson said in a statement. "Almost half of the 41 million Hispanics in this country watch only or mostly Spanish-language television, and we want to bring that audience to ABC."

Now let's juxtapose ABC's numbers (i.e., that 20.5 million Hispanics "watch only or mostly Spanish-language television") with the following facts. The Pew Hispanic Center pegs the number of illegal immigrants in this country at about 11 million this year. A report issued in January by Bear Stearns estimated that the number is considerably higher -- more like 20 million; but, for this casual analysis, I'll use the more conservative 11 million figure. Within that number about 81% are from Spanish-speaking Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Native Countries and Regions of Illegal Immigrants

81 percent come from Mexico and other parts of Latin America as of March 2004:
  • Mexico — 57 percent, or 5.9 million
  • Other Latin American nations — 24 percent, or 2.5 million
  • Asia — 9 percent, or 1 million
  • Europe and Canada — 6 percent, or 600,000
  • Africa and other — 4 percent, or 400,000
So, there are 8.4 million illegal immigrants in the United States who, I would conjecture, principally (and in most instances exclusively) speak and read Spanish. Or, if that presumption is unsound, will you accept that if you give any of these 8.4 million people a choice between watching English-television programming or Spanish-television programming, that they would choose the latter?

To continue then, ABC is targeting 20.5 million Spanish-speaking television viewers in America, so it would appear that within that target audience figure 8.4 million (or 41% of the sought after viewership) are illegal immigrants.

Employing so-called "undocumented workers" is against the law, but I'll concede that marketing to them (and the non-workers as well), and selling them products and services, is not. Nonetheless, many companies work both sides of the street and I, for one, find it more than just interesting.

What a major television network -- ABC -- is doing at minimum is reinforcing with Hispanic viewers (many of whom are in this country illegally) that assimilation into our culture is not vital, because it and many other companies will cater to their native language, their preferred language, indeed the language that they refuse to abandon. What's the big deal? One only need look to the costs of public education (and the poor test scores and high drop-out rates of many Hispanic students) owing to the ubiquitous concessions educators make to Spanish-speaking students (and even their parents) to understand how fundamentally wrong it is to encourage anything other than a full-fledged commitment to learning to speak and write in English in America. Multiculturalism is most assuredly one of the root causes of a foundering public education system in America. In the year 2000, 44.2% of Hispanic high school students born outside of the United States were drop-outs. And so-called "limited or non-English-speaking students" are the category of students with the largest growth rate in the country.

Whether you're looking at what ABC is doing or what countless school districts have and continue to do across the country, it all rolls up into a pattern of misguided language outreach -- an obeisance to another culture and language apart from our own. And it most assuredly rents the social fabric of America.

HAT-TIP: Matt Drudge