Sunday, July 2, 2017

Americans First: LA Area Immigrant Channel Goes Off the Air

Americans First!

Americans of all backgrounds are Americans, and their needs, their status, their values as Americans must come first.

So why is it that men and women find that much of the programming on Los Angeles area television is not in English?

For the record, I do not support "English Only" policies. Such an agenda would not allow students to learn foreign languages in school or allow for programming in other languages on TV, the radio, or other media.

However, I do believe that immigrants coming to this country should learn how to speak English.

The plethora of foreign-language programming in this country is not assisting the proper assimilation and acculturation of new immigrants to become American citizens with full capacity to exercise their rights!

Night after night, Paul Ho sat in the same chair, with his head resting on the same pillow as he tuned in to the Chinese-language newscast on Channel 18.

The East Los Angeles resident called the KSCI show, with anchors Harry Chang and Christine Chiang, “my dessert” after a meal.

“I watched them to understand Asia and America, and the commercials can show me where to eat or buy insurance,” the 63-year-old former accounting clerk said. “They are part of our family.”

I remember California Republican Party delegate reviewing and flipping through all the channels available to LA-area viewers.

Most of the programming was not in English.

The United States was founded as an English-speaking country. The Constitution was written in English. Our legal code is based on English Common Law.

And the Declaration and historical legacy of this country is founded on English principles, including the English Bill of Rights from 1689.

Why are we enabling residents in Los Angeles to continue to conduct business in foreign languages? This kind of linguistic balkanization is contributing to many of the problems in our communities. Men and women must learn to connect with one another in a common language.

And that language is English.

For more than 30 years, Channel 18 served as a TV United Nations in a city of immigrants desperate for programming in their own languages. The station broadcast an eclectic mix of shows that covered news and topics such as music, sports, travel and religion.

The TV United Nations? That is not a compliment, folks.

At various times, it offered content in 14 Asian languages, including Japanese, Vietnamese and Tagalog, along with Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Hebrew, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Russian.

Hey, French and Russian are just as much foreign languages as are the other languages. If these programs were offered expressly as programming to help men and women learn those foreign languages, all of that is just fine.

I do believe that most programming should reflect and respect the American character, and that includes the English language.

But this multiethnic quilt is coming to an end Saturday, when Channel 18 switches formats and begins broadcasting info commercials in English.

I am glad that this uilt has been frayed beyond repair. We need to unite as a country in a common culture and a common language. This truism does not mean that mean and women cannot celebrate their ethnic status or their heritage from other nations.

There is nothing wrong with that. Nevertheless, the United States and Americanism must be pre-eminent.

Officials have said little publicly about the reasons for the change. The station has struggled in recent years, filing for bankruptcy in 2012.

No one was watching these prorams anymore. Most likely the competition from social media and YoutTube contributed to the decline of these programs.

Experts also are quick to note that the types of programs Channel 18 offers are now commonly available on the Internet, cable TV and through video rentals.


In the past, KSCI “might have been the only place the audience could go to for certain type of Asian language entertainment,” said Lena Chao, professor of communication studies at Cal State L.A. “Now people can go to video bookstores and rent soap operas by the stacks.”

In my view, that's the way it should be. The private consumers should be on their own with their own money looking for these resources.

But even with more options available to immigrants, Chao said the loss of Channel 18 is “heartbreaking” because the station focused so much attention on news and information about Asian culture and society.

Remember that the media, whether in English or another language, is liberal-leaning, biased, more likely to discriminate against Donald Trump and conservatives.

“When mainstream news highlights Asians, it's just a blip,” she said. “We already have such a small market share. Now Asian coverage is shrinking even further.”

Channel 18 was beloved by generations of new arrivals to Los Angeles because many believe it operated as a public service to the community.

The format started in 1976, and officials said it was the first station in the U.S. to provide programs in so many different languages.

Not any more!

It forged a deal to broadcast the 1988 Seoul Olympics in Korean. During the Tiananmen Square crisis in 1989, the station added a live call-in show in Mandarin.

OK, but now we can get that information live through Facebook Live!

When the 1992 L.A. riots broke out, the station provided live coverage in multiple languages. It did similar simulcasts for candidates’ debates while also offering information about consumer protections and immigrant rights.

Why is this service necessary? Wouldn't the most important broadcasting demand require that more people learn what was happening ... in English?

The operators of Channel 18 said back then that their mission was to help immigrants assimilate into society by both informing and entertaining them.

Did that happen, though? I would submit that the opposite occurred. 

Over the years, the station has grappled with controversial issues including AIDS, sex education, international conflicts and race relations.

“Each time I put on my show, I try and teach Iranian people what to look out for in this country,” a host of a talk show for L.A. Persians told The Times in 1989. “When it’s over, if they haven’t learned anything, then I don’t call it a show.”

The end of Asian community coverage is like “losing a friend welcomed in your living room,” says Minan Tiwari, a retired bank custodian from Glendale. The Indian immigrant from Bombay is a fan of Diya TV, the only national broadcast TV network serving the Indian American community, focusing much of its news on public figures such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and airs the kind of Bollywood films Tiwari said he used to watch as a child.

They can still watch this program on YouTube, can't they?

“Where else can I get that?” Tiwari, 70, asked. “These business people, they don’t care about us from the audience. L.A. is one of the biggest economies in the world, and we are left without the TV we need. Why?”

Ravi Kapur, the Indian American owner of Diya TV, said his broadcasts were taken off the air several weeks ago.

“We’ve been getting feedback from folks who are grieving because they don’t know where else to turn to,” he said.

Dennis Davis, the station’s general manager, did not respond to requests for comment.

Probably because he would have to admit that his kind of career and its services are falling away.

Sources at the company, including in management, said they were notified in May about the shutdown and later heard about the station’s involvement in a profitable auction of its spectrum.

Jack Song, a Taiwanese immigrant who grew up in Arcadia, said his family’s routine would be to “switch on the TV at 7 p.m. and we would be glued to it for any kind of breaking news.”

Why are we hearing about immigrants so much in the media in general?

This narrative of paying more attention to people who are not Americans first and foremost is a little distressing, only because it shows a media narrative bias geared less toward celebrating this country and more towards celebrating ... what? Globalism?

To them, KSCI, broadcasting on digital channels, “seemed unbiased, and it offered an important tool for elected officials to reach immigrant voters,” the public relations specialist added.

Song, 35, said that for his parents and others who may be monolingual and “feel isolated by the mainstream,” watching the shows “made it comfortable to know you’re not alone.”

How about helping them learn English?

Clayton Dube, director of the U.S.-China Institute at USC, said that even in a climate of media downsizing — as advertisers migrate online, bypassing the traditional print and broadcast platforms — the programming change “took many people by surprise.”

Hey, the company declared bankruptcy five years ago. How many people missed that?

Often at 10 p.m., Dube would get home from work and watch a Mandarin rebroadcast of prime-time news. He and his wife, Xiaowei, had settled in the South Bay, and she knew when not to call her parents each evening during their TV time “because they tuned in religiously,” he said.

What do the viewing habits of individual LA area residents and their parents have to do with ... anything?

Dube said “it’s a very sad day for countless viewers who depend on their depth of information to know what’s going on — not just in their native countries but right here in Los Angeles where it’s so vibrant. Who else can do Asian programming to this degree?”

They need a foreign-language channel to tell them what is really going on in the world? What does that say about the English-language media, then?

On Friday, employees gathered for a group selfie after the final Mandarin newscast, hugging and high-fiving. The anchors, Chang and Chiang, had asked for a box of tissue before delivering their last newscast.

Twenty minutes in, Chiang began crying on air as they did a retrospective of past reports. They then thanked viewers for tuning in. New programming starting Saturday will include limited Korean content from international contributors.

“Many people new to L.A. may have felt lost, but we tried to share information that would help them,” Chiang said.

Lots of people feel lost in Los Angeles. It's all due to the political incompetence and corruption. Nothing more.

Final Reflection

The decline of television media is a direct result of creative destruction.

It's more good news for this country, though, since more liberal-leaning corporate outlets will have less opportunity to push a narrative rather than simply present truth in reporting.

Then again, when immigrant communities have to resort to foreign-language  media to get the truth about what is going on in the world, what does that say about the mainstream media, which broadcasts in English?

Also ... why is it that so many immigrant communities are relying on foreign language media in the first place? Shouldn't these communities be assimilating into the American culture, which includes working knowledge of the English language?

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