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Diversity in Media Ownership: Latino TV Viewers Gravitate Toward Latino-owned Stations - Study

First Posted: May 04, 2016 04:48 PM EDT
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Diversity in Media Ownership Matters, Hints New FCC Study on Latino TV

Diversity in Media Ownership Matters, Hints New FCC Study on Latino TV

The mantra of "for us by us" may be empirically true for Latinos' interest in television programming, if preliminary findings of a new study by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prove correct. The FCC may have found a correlation between Latino audiences television viewing habits and whether or not a TV station is Hispanic-owned.

The findings are part of a report from the FCC called the "Hispanic Television Study."

Though the study's results are still preliminary and up for peer review -- and the FCC cautioned its results with a caveat that the report cannot identify causal effects, only correlations -- the findings provide fascinating sociological clues as to why diversity in media, and especially in media ownership, is important.

Big Ratings from Latinos for Hispanic-owned TV Stations

The FCC's preliminary findings found correlations between Hispanic-owned stations and programming and the viewing choices and habits of Latino audience members. Specifically, Latinos favor Hispanic-owned stations, especially local and Spanish-language ones, rating them at higher levels than stations not owned by Latinos.

"We find some indication that Hispanic ownership is associated with higher ratings among Hispanics, and in particular among Hispanics viewing Spanish-language local programming," wrote the FCC in its preliminary report, now up for the peer-review process.

It's not that Latino viewers necessarily knew which stations were owned and operated by Latinos and consciously chose to favor those stations, and the results aren't fully consistent across viewing habits. For example, Univision remained high in ratings with Latino audiences, despite not being Hispanic-owned.

Instead, the Hispanic-owned effect, especially with independent, local stations, seems to be from stations' curation of programming that especially appeals to Latino audiences, along with the general trend of favoring Spanish-language news and other programming.

The findings suggest, as the report put it, "that the programming choices of Hispanic-owned stations may lead to increased viewership among Hispanics compared to their viewing of stations that are not Hispanic-owned."

Hints About Diversity in Media Ownership

Using Nielsen television data, the study examined 39 geographic television markets in the U.S., which in total contain nearly 80 percent of all Latino television households in the country. It took that viewer data and compared it with the FCC's own broadcast ownership data, which it gets when stations register with the agency.

The FCC stressed that the findings were not yet peer reviewed, and didn't necessarily represent any conclusions that the agency could use in formulating policy.

Nevertheless, the correlations give hints at how diversity of media ownership can affect programming, and viewer interest among Latinos.

"This study is a step toward understanding the demand for programming content among a growing segment of the U.S. television audience," wrote the FCC in its report, "we see this study as a useful addition to the research into these issues, and the results as suggestive though insufficient for a final conclusion of the relationships we examine."

For more details, you can check out the full FCC study, even as it's still going through the peer review process, here.

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