JACL sent out an announcement this morning about an agreement that’s been reached between NBC Universal, Comcast (which is trying to get regulators’ blessings to buy NBCU) and a handful of Asian American Pacific Islander organizations: the Asian American Justice Center, East West Players, Japanese American Citizens League, OCA and Media Action Network for Asian Americans.
Although the past couple of years have led to a marked increase in the number of Asian faces on TV and in movies, it’s nice to see some high-level muscle put on both Comcast and NBCU to be more inclusive within their programming. The agreement’s been in the works for a while; Comcast last month announced its new on-demand channel, “Cinema Asian America,” which is great. I hope to see progress from other media companies and Hollywood giants too, until AAPIs are no longer invisible and are represented accurately as just another part of the quilt that makes up American society.
This probably seems like a trivial deal to some people, but as an Asian American who grew seeing very few people like me on TV and in movie, it’s a big deal. It’s slowly getting better, but I’ve written about this issue as early as 1998 in a column titled “Why Can’t I Be on TV?” and I’ve I’ve given speeches about the topic over the years.
When I no longer do a double-take or other take notice of an “Asian sighting” on a reality show, or in a commercial, or as a lead character on a TV series or Hollywood film, I’ll know we’ve finally arrived.
Here’s the full text of the JACL press release:
LANDMARK AGREEMENT BETWEEN COMCAST & NBCU AND LEADING ASIAN AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU) reached a historic agreement with leading Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations including Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), East West Players (EWP), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), OCA and Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA).
With AAJC leading the group with negotiations, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) serves as a commitment by Comcast and NBCU to increase the inclusion of Asian Americans in media and also within their corporations in five key areas: corporate governance; employment/workforce recruitment & retention; procurement; programming; and philanthropy and community investments.
“Until now the door of access to media participation has been virtually closed to Asian Americans,” said Floyd Mori, JACL’s national executive director/CEO. “This agreement is a great beginning of cracking open opportunities for the general public to see Asian American talent and our role in the community at large.”
Comcast has already announced the launch of Cinema Asian America, a new On Demand destination featuring Asian American content that reflects the diversity and depth of Asian American culture and its cinema. The new offering gives Comcast digital video customers access to classics, award-winning movies featured on the film festival circuit, and short- and feature-length works with genres ranging from documentary to experimental. The JACL applauds Comcast and NBCU for acting timely on establishing an Asian American Advisory Council and allowing for community input as to who should serve on the Council.
The JACL would like to thank the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) for their leadership and support for this agreement and their dedication to make media diversity a priority. The JACL looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with Comcast and NBCU on media issues. For the full MOU, visit here
Founded in 1929, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization concerned with issues of education, public policy and leadership development. With 113 chapters in 26 states, the JACL is a prominent voice for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community on issues that affect the well-being of the community. As a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, the JACL promotes public awareness about the history and achievements of AAPIs, identifies and trains youth for leadership and service and pursues public policy issues that affect the AAPI community. The JACL headquarters is located in San Francisco with additional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.