November 9, 2007

Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition Reports Diversity Progress On Network TV But Shortfalls Still Exist

The Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition released its seventh annual Diversity “Report Card” outlining diversity performance grades for ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX television networks. The report cards are based on statistical information provided by each network and measure performance in eight categories: diverse actors in regular and recurring roles, diverse directors, writers/producers, entertainment creative executives, program development, supplier diversity and overall network commitment to diversity initiatives.

“The number of American Latinos both in front and back of camera has increased,” said Esteban Torres, National Latino Media Council Chair, “but they are incremental numbers in proportion to the (Latino) population.” The retired U.S. Congressman went on to report excellent grades for ABC television for securing Latino talent in every one of the network’s most popular programs and its award-winning success with the mega-hit “Ugly Betty.” As a result, ABC is the only network that has earned an overall grade of A- for the 2006-2007 season. 

Both NBC and CBS maintained their diversity performance grades of B and B+, respectively, while FOX-TV was the only network to go down a grade, from a B to a B-. Torres explained, “FOX has an internal policy that prohibits complete disclosure on statistical information that is readily provided by the other networks. We lament this fact and will continue to press FOX to be more open and forthright moving forward.” On a more positive note, FOX doubled its number of Latino writers and producers by an impressive 57.1%.

However, network diversity performance relative to the American Indian population is not so optimistic. “Behind the camera, American Indians remain invisible,” explained Mark Reed, the National Representative and spokesman for American Indians in Film and Television, “with only 1 writer, 0 directors and 0 producers, we are still misunderstood and underrepresented in front of the camera.” According to Reed, “guest starring” roles are the training ground and the best opportunity for American Indian talent to be considered for regular or recurring roles.

The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition also cited network shortfalls in their diversity performance for 2007. “We are deeply concerned about the lack of commitment to development deals with APA writers and talent,” said Karen K. Narasaki, Chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, “it has been 13 years since the ground-breaking sitcom, All American Girl, featuring an Asian American family, and led by Margaret Cho was on the air.” Narasaki explained that without more development deals and a serious investment in APA talent from the networks, the Asian American community has no hope that the rest of the country will have the opportunity to see an Asian American family in primetime any time soon.

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