Television: What's Wrong With This Picture?

The U.S. Hispanic population has grown 58% in 10 years, to 35 million. On TV, Latinos are down to 2% of characters. Why the brownout?

It was a proud moment for Hispanic Americans last week when NBC unveiled its fall schedule in New York City. The network showed a clip of a rare TV show: a sitcom with a strong, charismatic Latino lead and broad audience appeal.

The bad news: the show was Chico and the Man, part of a reel of highlights from NBC's history. By and large, major Hispanic TV characters are still just that, history--Freddie Prinze's Chico, Desi Arnaz's Ricky Ricardo--even though Latinos are America's fastest-growing minority, now roughly equal in number to African Americans. The disparity is not new, but it has...

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