John McCaslin

In advance of his organization's annual conference next week, a leading member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, headquartered at the National Press Club, is calling for a boycott of hotels in Chicago that do not carry Spanish language television.

"Now, I understand that changing hotels a week before the convention might not be easy, but it's worth a try," encourages Hugo Balta, vice president of news of WNJU Telemundo 47, the NBC Universal-owned station serving the New York metropolitan area.

Mr. Balta, the son of Peruvian immigrants, says he and at least one other NAHJ member have switched hotels days before the July 23-27 conference, which features appearances by FOX News Channel's Geraldo Rivera and CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

"I called all of the hotels on the UNITY list and only one informed me that it offers Spanish language television," said Mr. Balta, who is running for the post of NAHJ vice president/broadcast. "Sheraton Towers — NO. Chicago City Centre Hotel — NO. Hyatt Regency Chicago — NO. Hyatt Regency McCormick Place — NO. Swissotel Chicago — NO. Inn of Chicago — YES …

"I share this with you because regardless of how difficult it might be to find hotels (quality hotels) that carry Spanish language television we cannot continue to give business to establishments that do not recognize 'us.'"

Reached Thursday afternoon, NAHJ executive director Ivan Roman told Inside the Beltway that the boycott drive now appears to be paying off, with several of the above-named hotels, including the Sheraton Towers, promising to have Spanish language TV "by the time the conference begins."

"These are major changes," Mr. Roman said. "The fact that they can do it in Chicago that fast is great … This is a recognition of the growing number of Spanish language media."

He added: "It's just like you want to watch CNN."

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John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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