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Television's Captive Audiences

April 03, 1988

I have been trying to help a bright Spanish-speaking lady learn the basics of the English language. Since she cannot get to group classes, I immediately thought of classes on television. What comes to mind is station KMEX (Channel 34) in Los Angeles, which specifically caters to the Spanish-speaking population in our area.

I was told by KMEX that it did not broadcast any programs of English instruction. Should they not do so as a public service to the Spanish-speaking community from which KMEX derives its revenues?

The problem, I was told, is the lack of availability of such programs to stations that buy programming. Could KMEX not make such a series? I was told that would be too costly.

Television station KVEA (Channel 52) said it was indeed very important and would consider such programming in the future.

At the same time, Saddleback Valley Unified School District is planning a public hearing on bilingual education and is applying for a federal grant to set up a bilingual education program. The school district would receive $250,000.

Why should the public schools take on this burden when the powers in Latino television do not lift a finger? Are ethnic stations afraid of losing their audience, part of which is held captive by its inability to speak the language of the country in which it lives?

BLANCHE THOMA

El Toro

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