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Coalition Preparing to Renew Its Calls for Hispanic FCC Nominee

Dec. 14, 2021, 10:00 AM

An association of 41 major Hispanic organizations is readying to urge President Joe Biden to pick a Hispanic person to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, should Gigi Sohn’s nomination fail in the Senate.

Republican senators increasingly are calling for Biden to withdraw Sohn’s nomination, citing fears she will push for heavy-handed regulations. Some GOP lawmakers also take issue with Sohn’s past tweets in which she attacked conservative media outlets.

It is unclear whether Sohn has enough Democratic support to be confirmed before the end of the congressional session.

“If for any reason her nomination falls through, we will double down in our urging the president that this time he appoint a Hispanic,” National Hispanic Leadership Agenda chairman Kenneth Romero said.

A White House spokesman signaled that Biden is not inclined to withdraw the pick.

“Gigi Sohn is extremely qualified for the position, and the White House continues to strongly back her nomination,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher said in an email. Sohn declined to comment.

NHLA has not taken an official position on Sohn. The group had advocated for the nomination of a Hispanic person for months before Biden announced his nominations of Sohn and fellow Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel.

A Hispanic commissioner would be best suited to advance the coalition’s goals of combating disinformation, news distortions, White supremacy, and conspiracy mongering in FCC-licensed Spanish-language media, NHLA said.

LULAC Opposition

The League of United Latin American Citizens has publicly opposed her. LULAC is an NHLA member. AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc., and Comcast Corp. are members of the LULAC Corporate Alliance, an advisory board that says it seeks to foster stronger partnerships between corporations and the Hispanic community.

Sohn says she is an advocate of diversity in media, but those claims have not “panned out in numbers,” LULAC chief executive officer Sindy Benavides said.

Sohn failed to reject the One America News Network’s endorsement of her nomination last month, Benavides said. OAN is a conservative-leaning network that Benavides says spreads disinformation. The network walked back its endorsement of Sohn last week.

LULAC is having internal conversations regarding the steps it will take should Sohn’s nomination fall through, Benavides said.

Other Hispanic groups have backed Sohn, including Fuse Media Inc. and the Hispanic Federation.

NHLA has pushed for the nomination of National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts advocate Félix Sánchez. As a legislative assistant in the mid-1980s to then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), Sánchez advised the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on FCC regulatory issues.

Sánchez, an attorney who has co-chaired NHLA’s Media Committee for more than a decade, declined to comment.

NHLA endorsed Sánchez in a March 16 letter to Biden, touting his promotion of diverse employment and ownership in media, and minority media entrepreneurship. The group renewed their request to Biden to nominate Sánchez in an Aug. 12 letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Curi at mcuri@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com