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Media Centre


The Honorable Cardiss Collins
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Gold Ribbon Awards Breakfast

Guest Speaker:

The Honorable Cardiss Collins,
U.S. Representative
in Congress (Ret.)

Cardiss Collins Applauds the CAB's Diversity in Broadcasting Initiatives:

"It is my understanding that the CAB was asked to create the task force and to fund it. Creating and funding are two different things. Creating is getting a bunch of people together, and funding is putting your money where your mouth is. And that to me is very important. I commend you. All of you who are members of the CAB are to be applauded for doing just that. You are also to be applauded because of the report of the task force. Your task force report is something that I can use as a guideline when I go back to my country. It’s very well done. It’s something that is complete. You have touched upon areas that my task force had not touched upon because ours was geared only toward measurement, but measurement is, as I said, one thing, diversity is a component of the measurement that is there."

See below for the full text of Cardiss Collins' speech.


Thank you, Mr. Hayes, for your kind introduction. It’s always a pleasure to visit our neighbour here to the North, and to share in your rich and diverse culture. I also acknowledge the presence of Mr. Braide, and all the co-sponsors of this Convention. It’s a wonderful convention from what I’ve been able to hear and read, and I’m delighted to see that they’re so many of you this morning, and good morning to all of you.

Before I go into my remarks, however, I think it’s more than fitting that I congratulate all of the awardees who are present today and those who aren’t here today for the fine work that you have done, as has been expressed by the fact that you have been recipients of these wonderful awards today. Congratulations!

I wish to speak for just a moment or two about the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement. Sounds great doesn’t it…wonderful task force. The Independent Task Force on Television Measurement…well, it’s really a group of 19 people who were created by the Nielsen Media Research Group a year and a half ago in response to allegations that Nielsen’s local people meter – which is an electronic device that is currently to be used instead of the old fashion diary system of rating folk – was launched in the year 2002.

The allegations, of course, were that the ratings were not fair to African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and Asian Americans, and as a result of this unfair rating that had been received from Nielsen by a certain company in the United States, that television programming was going to be reduced to programming that they thought people of colour was interested in. And so the 19 of us were given the mission of looking at television measurement. What I want you to know is that we had these 19 people, who were from all walks of life, many of them businessmen who gave time from their own businesses, they were community people, they were stakeholders, they were individuals who had a major interest in what the task force would learn.

We decided that the best way to approach this was to form ourselves into five committees. They were the committees on sampling, advertising and advertising agencies, broadcast and cable operations, independent producers and syndicators, and of course, the impact that all of these things would have on minority actors, writers and communities. We worked hard and long hours and we were totally dedicated to this, and eight months later we, in fact, were ready to give our report to Nielsen. This was after visiting their operations, their facilities, looking into their measurement practices, and meeting with and hearing from many key industry representatives, from a broad range of stakeholders, some of whom I’ve mentioned before and then we issued at the end of that eight months, our 2005 report.

Now what did we find during these eight months?

We found a couple of small things that I think you might find interesting. One, we found that in order to more accurately measure diverse viewing audiences, it’s necessary to sample according to individual characteristics rather than looking at households as a whole. This is particularly important because assigning a single race or language to an entire household is going to become more problematic in the future as families become progressively more diverse and multicultural.

When I was a child, my mother and I moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Detroit. We moved there because Detroit had these so-called, at that time, “war plants”: Former automobile plants which had been converted to produce tanks and other things that were being used in World War II – it shows you how old I am – but we went there because my aunt worked in one such plant and my mother hoped to find employment there, and have a better way of life for us. We were not the only ones who moved there. We had a lot of relatives who lived in Tennessee, which is my mother’s home state, and they were also moving to Detroit to make sure that they would have a better standard of living. And as they did so, they all stayed with members of their families, including our family as well. When the census came along, my aunt and uncle were also there. My aunt happens to be Cuban, and the census had recorded her as a “negro”. Well, she couldn’t speak a word of English at the time; she had not yet learned. But just because she looked like me, somebody decided that she was not Cuban, but in fact was “other than” – whatever “other than” was – but she was classified wrong.

So one of the things that we did as a task force was to say that it was absolutely necessary that people identify themselves as to how they want to be classified when sampling is done. It just makes good sense to do so. What we also recommended was that the field reps that Nielsen sends out are aware of these kinds of misrepresentations. They too have to know that although I look like I do, it might be that I speak Portuguese or French, or some other language, born in another country altogether. I don’t have to be classified just as I might happen to look to be. And so drilling down on that aspect is very, very important.

Secondly, we want to talk again about those field operators. Field operators seemingly felt at that time, I like to think before we made them aware of it, that they had a job, other than to go out and sign up people, they had a job to ensure that the household was indeed operating the local people meter properly. They needed to do some follow up, they needed to do a number of things. Perhaps, a suggestion we told them, might be that they might want to put on screen information in a household to make sure they were operating the people meter correctly, so the information we got back was good information, and also that it would reduce some of the faulting that we were finding in our system.

We also found that to a large extent female heads of household preferred to talk to female representatives. It seemed so logical to me, but that had never been thought of, so of course we made the recommendation. Thirdly, we found faulting, as I’ve just mentioned, is such a big thing, but the one thing that we seemingly noted carried a great deal of weight in faulting was a matter of privacy. Now, privacy is important to everyone, but to old folks like myself and to people that might be immigrants, privacy is extremely important. And so we had to suggest that some mechanism be given by which people would understand that private information that is given to the field representatives is to be used only by Nielsen Media Research, and positively not by anyone else.

I suppose the last thing we thought of in fault and privacy and editing rules, etc., was that we needed to take a long hard look at what we were doing. What we were doing was sort of going over, sort of leaning over the whole aspect of measuring deeply. When I use the terminology drilling down, I mean that we just cannot go out as state reps, I mean that Nielsen can not just say that they are rating as closely as they could when in fact they had not, at that time, done the job that we thought they could do with editing rules. We knew that individual coaching and editing rules had to look more closely at the demographics, they had to know the people that they were talking to, they had to in fact make sure that the analysis, that the balance between the system and the local people rating had to somehow touch the demographics of the people that they were looking at and that is what we had recommended that they do.

Now, it is my understanding just from reading the booklet that had been sent to me that you have a concern about minority habits and viewing as well. I’ve had the pleasure of reading your task force report from cover to cover. It is extremely progressive and well done. As I read it, I couldn’t help but wish that our FTC in the United States, the Federal Telecommunications Commission, couldn’t somehow learn from your CRTC that this is a critically important issue. The issues of diversity and measurement all go hand in hand. When I looked at your report, I found several things that I thought were just the kinds of things that I would want our report that we were to issue in the United States to say. One is how critically important diversity is. It’s fine to measure, it’s fine to measure what people are looking at but those measurements in my country, unfortunately, are pretty much based on what’s already there. I would like to see measurements of what people really want to see based on diversity itself.

Diversity is critically important. When I look around the United States, I see some changes, and I know there are changes here as well. Our population is growing at an extraordinary rate. As a matter of fact, I have been told that by the year 2050, our country is going to be roughly 50% ethnic, it’s going to be 50% minority, 50% of people of colour. That is a dramatic change and it’s going to happen in the next, what… 45 years. 45 years is not a long time by any means, and as a result of that we have to be aware of these kinds of things. We have to know what they mean to us.

I have to take this moment however to applaud the CRTC for its vision in creating the arena, if you will, in which your kinds of studies, your report could be made and done. It is my understanding that the CAB was asked to create the task force and to fund it. Creating and funding are two different things. Creating is getting a bunch of people together, and funding is putting your money where your mouth is. And that to me is very important. I commend you. All of you who are members of the CAB are to be applauded for doing just that. You are also to be applauded because of the report of the task force. Your task force report is something that I can use as a guideline when I go back to my country. It’s very well done. It’s something that is complete. You have touched upon areas that my task force had not touched upon because ours was geared only toward measurement, but measurement is, as I said, one thing, diversity is a component of the measurement that is there.

Lastly I want to say this: I want to say that, we have to look at our populations, I spoke a moment ago about the population growth in our country. Now what does all this population growth mean? Well in my country, it means a lot. The World Bank, in its 2004 report, said that, they called it the ethnic USA, the ethnic USA dollars were rising six times faster than the general population and was the fourth largest in the world. It means to advertisers, and to those who use advertising, those who broadcast, those who use television, those who are looking at the kinds of technologies that are going to be needed in the future, have to be aware of. Television is the most important thing in our country, and so are also the other types of devices that people are going to be using. And how are they going to be using those? They are going to be purchasing it, they’re going to be purchasing digital, they are going to be purchasing some of the other things that are already here on the market. So it is a business proposition as far as I’m concerned. So, I think it is absolutely essential that we look at those populations that are going to be growing, that are going to be changing, that are going to be multicultural, that are going to be very diverse. And they are going to want to make sure that they see themselves, not only in front of the camera but behind the camera where decisions are being made. That’s where the problem is right now, there are not enough people of colour, visible minorities or whatever you want to decide to call us, there are not enough people that are making those kinds of decisions about what they wish to see, about how they wish to be entertained, about how they want to be viewed nowadays.

Now of your country, I can’t speak, but in my country I can truly say that there are just not enough people in the corporate structure to make those decisions, to have those eyes and ears, to make sure that somebody hears what we have to say so that we can see what we want to see on television, hear what we want to hear on radio, etc… And finally, let me say this. It has been a wonderful experience just being here today. I have learned a lot just by talking to people. I’ve talked to Mr. Hayes. I’ve talked to the young lady just before me who talked about the women’s group. She told me that there are women throughout this country who are gathering themselves together so that they can be in the corporate board offices as our women in our country as well. This is wonderful. The one place where I find the most problems is that they are minority, if you will, who are waiting at the gate hoping to get in - wishing to get in - who have the responsibility to be in, who have the education to do good jobs once they’re there. Please open the gates, so that we can come in.

Thank you.


 
 
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