After Verizon's decision to remove Univision from Verizon Fios, AT&T recently decided to remove Televisión Dominicana from U-Verse and DIRECTV, which is their only channel that services the Dominican community, leaving viewers who were depending on the channel for news and updates in the dark. Not surprisingly, AT&T’s actions have provoked concern and outrage among Hispanic leaders.  

"Despite our best efforts to negotiate continued distribution, AT&T's proposals made access to Televisión Dominicana limited and more expensive for the Dominican community," said a spokesman for the channel. According to The Business in Television "There are 2.3 million Dominicans living in the United States, the fourth largest Spanish-speaking population, but AT&T and DIRECTV carry other networks targeting smaller population groups. Among those are three channels from Spain provided by a company partnered with DIRECTV, including the channel that replaced Televisión Dominicana."

In the latest of a series of actions, Congress member Adriano Espaillat - the first Dominican-American in Congress - called on the Boards of both AT&T and Time Warner to consider the importance of Televisión Dominicana in the lives of countless Dominican Americans in light of the proposed merger between the two companies.

The Congress member previously called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to closely scrutinize – and to strongly consider rejecting – the proposed merger to protect competition and diversity in the media market. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus also sounded the alarm by calling on FCC Chairman Pai to enforce Section 257 (b) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and promote policies that favor diversity in the media market.

Espaillat told Latin Times that he is very worried with how the situation is affecting, and largely silencing independent voices in media. “I have a number of concerns regarding the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13).

“The recent decision by AT&T to remove Televisión Dominicana from its lineup shows cultural disregard, indifference, and lack in the network’s efforts to promote diversity among its programming. Promoting diverse voices and minority representation are critical to our success in telecommunications and the marketplace. I strongly encourage both parties to return to the negotiation table to find the best solution in the interests for my constituents and for their customers.”

In that sense, a call has been made for the Dominicans living in the US to call AT&T and DirecTV to complain. To join this petition you must call the DirecTV telephone number 1-800-531-5000.