GLAAD gives MTV high marks in fourth annual Network Responsibility Index


LGBTQ Nation

MTV has been awarded high marks from Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), earning an “Excellent” rating from the advocacy group for its portrayal of gay, lesbian and transgender people on television.

GLAAD released its fourth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) on Thursday, a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on television. Prime time programming on the five broadcast networks was evaluated as well as original prime time programming on 10 of the highest-rated cable networks.

“It is with great pride that GLAAD honors MTV with our highest mark of excellence in recognition of the network’s commitment to fair and accurate representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios.

“From their inception, MTV programs like ‘The Real World’ and ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’ have offered richly diverse portrayals of gay and transgender people that help Americans better understand and accept our community,” said Barrios.

Of MTV’s 207.5 hours of original prime time programming, 42% included LGBT-inclusive images that reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of the LGBT community as well as a strong cross-section of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said GLAAD.

GLAAD reviewed more than 4,700 hours of prime time programming for inclusion of LGBT characters or issues on the five major networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC) from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010. GLAAD also examined 1,227 hours of original prime time programming on 10 highly-rated cable networks. Each hour was reviewed for on-screen LGBT representations.

Based on the quantity, overall quality and diversity of these representations, a rating was assigned by GLAAD’s Entertainment Media Program to each network: Excellent, Good, Adequate, or Failing.

Here are the findings from the GLAAD Network Responsibility Index:
(Download a copy of the report here.)

Broadcast Networks

  • After three years in second place, The CW is now the top broadcast network with 35% of its prime time programming hours being LGBT-inclusive. This is the highest percentage ever recorded for a broadcast network, though it should be noted that The CW airs less prime time programming hours than the other four broadcast networks.
  • ABC dropped to third place in terms of its percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming hours (26%). ABC received a “Good” rating because of the quantity and strong quality of its LGBT images.
  • Fox ranked right behind The CW in its percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming hours (30%) but received an “Adequate” rating because of the stereotypical and defamatory nature of some of its content. NBC also received an “Adequate” because of the comparatively low quantity of LGBT stories (13%).
  • CBS once again received a “Failing” rating with only 7% LGBT-inclusive hours of primetime programming, the vast majority of which came from its reality series.

Cable Networks

  • In addition to MTV’s groundbreaking “Excellent” rating, for the first time a majority of cable networks received higher than an “Adequate” rating. ABC Family (37%), TNT (34%), Showtime (32%), Lifetime (31%) and HBO (26%) all received “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.
  • FX aired a significant amount of LGBT-inclusive programming (27%), but often relied on stereotypes or problematic representations of the LGBT community.
  • USA (4%), A&E (3%) and TBS (2%) all received “Failing” ratings for their lack of LGBT-inclusive images.

“When television networks share real stories of our community, audiences begin to see the common ground that we all share,” said Barrios. “Over the last year, viewers across the country celebrated the arrival of Mitchell and Cameron’s baby on ABC’s ‘Modern Family’, while teens and parents everywhere were moved by Kurt Hummel’s relationship with his father on Fox’s ‘Glee.’ These images and stories are being noticed by viewers, critics and Awards programs and we urge other networks to open their airwaves to such powerful and inclusive messages.”

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