SAN JUAN — According to information provided to Latino Rebels by Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), more than 3,000 complaints about La Comay’s October 9 broadcast were received by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Rep. Velázquez confirmed that she received an email from the federal agency last Friday stating that was the number of complaints was at around 3,250.
“I am optimistic that over 3,000 complaints have been filed with the FCC,” Rep. Velázquez told Latino Rebels on Wednesday. “People are tired, and this type of concerted effort, it is good to demand accountability and to get the FCC to treat this with the respect that the people of Puerto Rico deserve.”
After filing an FOIA request, the FCC told Latino Rebels that the agency received approximately 3,160 complaints as of Wednesday.
The FCC complaints were the direct result of a call to action by feminist groups that went viral on social media. Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres, one of the island’s most prominent feminist collectives, led the efforts after Kobbo Santarrosa’s La Comay puppet character used the airwaves to sexualize the underage daugther of gobernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro.
¡Llegamos a las 3,250 querellas presentadas en la @FCC! Gracias a la Congresista @NydiaVelazquez por mantenernos informadas. Aquí 👇🏼el enlace para que continúen sometiendo sus querellas.#apágaleelmicrofono https://t.co/zuOuwekAKk pic.twitter.com/3UOmYlRvoE
— MovAmplioMujeres PR (@MovAMujeresPR) October 17, 2020
“As soon as we understood the situation, as a collective, we immediately set out to create something to denounce what had happened on the program,” Sara Benítez, spokesperson for the collective, explained to Latino Rebels. “We set out to do the campaign to move dozens and dozens of people, particularly women, to file complaints with the FCC.”
¡ES HORA DE ELIMINAR LA VIOLENCIA DE KOBBO! Radica una querella ante el FCC.
Nos unimos a la convocatoria de @MovAMujeresPR
TOMA ACCIÓN 👇
— Taller Salud (@tsalud) October 11, 2020
“One thing is to target adult women,” said Zulnette Garcia Ramos, another spokesperson for the collective. “The fact that they were discussing and sexualizing a minor provoked a lot of outrage. On the island, there are social limits set that the people hold, independently of their sociopolitical stance.”
Latino Rebels reached out to MegaTV (which broadcasts La Comay) and parent company SBS for comment. Latino Rebels was told to contact their publicist. As of this posting, said publicist has not responded, and Santarrosa has insisted that he was sharing a photo previously shared by other shows a few years back.
Apart from the FCC complaints, people went to MegaTV’s studios on the evening of October 12 to protest the comments and demand the cancellation of the program.
“I saw people on Twitter talking about possibly protesting [against the program], but there wasn’t anything set in stone,” said Ana Marazzi, a senior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and local activist on the island who was one of the main organizers. “So I decided to set a day, time, and place for the protest and posted it online, and it became incredibly viral.”
Convocamos una manifestación frente los estudios de MegaTV en repudio a Kobbo Santarrosa y su programa.
Cuando: Este lunes 12 de oct, 6PM
Donde: Frente a los estudios MegaTV
📍Amelia Industrial Park, Guaynabo
¡Ven con tu pancarta y mascarilla! Pa fuera La Comay. Se va caer. pic.twitter.com/n5wI7DScbk
— Ana Marazzi (@anamarazzixd) October 11, 2020
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Convocamos una manifestación frente los estudios de MegaTV en repudio a Kobbo Santarrosa y su programa. Exigimos la cancelación de La Comay de inmediato. Cuando: Este lunes 12 de oct, 6PM Donde: Frente a los estudios MegaTV 📍Amelia Industrial Park, Guaynabo ¡Ven con tu pancarta y mascarilla! Pa fuera La Comay. Se va caer 🔥 Recuerden guardar distanciamiento! Si no le pueden llegar, compartan y hagan sus denuncias al FCC (link en mi bio)
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Ayer, nos manifestamos en repudio a Antulio Kobbo Santarrosa, Mega TV, SBS y todes quienes lo apoyan y lo auspician. Es muy lamentable, incluso violento, tener que discutir la vida de una menor, y las vidas de muchas mujeres, a estos niveles y en estas plataformas. Queremos que les niñes, las mujeres, y les cuerpes sepan que no están soles. Esta lucha sigue, cueste lo que cueste. Antulito es un cobarde, y siempre lo ha sido escondiéndose detrás de una muñeca. Llegó su hora. Y que esta sea la última vez que lo vayamos que callar. 📷: @colectivafeministapr
The protest received support from feminist collectives and nonprofits on the island, such as Colectiva Feminista en Construcción and Taller Salud. Marazzi said she also reached out to the popular online activist page of CON(Sentimientos), and a day later they called for a protest a half-hour earlier on the same day.
The FCC has not yet issued a public statement about the situation and has not made it clear if La Comay and SBS/MegaTV will be investigated by the agency.
[“FCC chair Ajit] Pai said there’s nothing the agency could do, citing the protection of the First Amendment and Section 326 of the Communications Act. He said broadcasters have ‘discretion to determine what content to air on their stations, even if that programming could be objectionable to some viewers,’ with the exception of obscene, indecent, or profane programming of course. Pai said the FCC is ‘generally prohibited from censoring content or dictating to licensees what the stations can or cannot air.’”
Velázquez’s original FCC letter was written after La Comay shared disparaging xenophobic remarks against a Puerto Rican candidate’s South Asian roots. This was weeks after Santarrosa made anti-Black comments and mocked an Afro-Latina politician.
Isabella Philippi Cámara is a freelance journalist who has worked for GFR Media, and is currently a rising senior in university studying communications. You can find her on Twitter @iphilippicamara.