The issue of Latino representation on television is still very much a work in progress, and of those shows that do make it to the small-screen – both on English and Spanish language networks – the majority cater to Mexican audiences. This makes sense considering that we’re talking about the largest Latino group in the U.S. Still, over the last couple of decades, Latino demographics have shifted considerably and, frankly, Dominicans have been blowing up.
English-language television hasn’t quite gotten the message yet – aside from offerings like VICELAND’s Desus & Mero and some of the characters on Orange is the New Black, America’s tigueres don’t get much love. Instead, networks like Televisión Dominicana – which airs nine hours of live news and talk shows every day – provided one of the only opportunities for the Dominican community to access a pipeline of TV content directly from the DR. The network also produces several shows in New York and Boston that cater specifically to the experiences of Dominican-Americans.
As of August 31, 2017, however, DIRECTV has opted to remove Televisión Dominicana – the only Dominican channel it offers – from its service. DIRECTV has recently removed other networks serving Latino audiences, including Yaveo, which was removed in 2015, and Univision, which was temporarily removed during negotiations and later reinstated. This removal is taking place at the same time as DIRECTV seeks approval to acquire Time Warner.
Contract disputes between TV networks and service providers are nothing new, though programming blackouts have increased in both intensity and frequency in recent years. In some instances, disgruntled customers have succeeded in pressuring distributors to resolve these disputes. It remains to be seen how Televisión Dominicana’s audience – which sits in the top third of Spanish-language networks – will respond. Televisión Dominicana has begun a campaign asking its audience to reach out to DIRECTV and let them know how they feel.
*Disclosure: Televisión Dominicana is owned by Hemisphere Media, which is a Remezcla investor.