GLAAD network study: ABC Family rates ‘Excellent’ for LGBT inclusiveness


GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, on Wednesday released its fifth annual Network Responsibility Index, an evaluation of the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on television, and ABC Family became the second network in the NRI’s history to earn an “Excellent” rating from GLAAD.

Intended to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate and inclusive LGBT media representations, GLAAD evaluated prime time programming on the five broadcast networks and original prime time programming on 10 major cable networks

Of its 103 hours of original prime time programming, 55 percent included LGBT-inclusive images which also reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of the LGBT community.

It is notable that both ABC Family and MTV, which in 2010 received the first-ever “Excellent” rating from GLAAD, are both youth-oriented networks, reported GLAAD.

“As television audiences get to know our community and the common ground that we all share on the screen and in their own lives, acceptance is growing,” said Mike Thompson, Acting President of GLAAD.

“Inclusive programming is a hit with critics and audiences alike who cheered for Kurt and Blaine’s romance on Glee or watched the wedding of Callie and Arizona on Grey’s Anatomy.”

Following are some of GLAAD’s findings:

Broadcast Networks:

  • The CW remains the top broadcast network with 33% of its primetime programming hours being LGBT-inclusive. Fox came in second at 29%, and both networks received a “Good” rating this year.
  • ABC remained in third place in terms of its percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming hours (23%). ABC received a “Good” rating because of the strong quality of its LGBT images, and the network broadcast the greatest total number of LGBT-inclusive hours (253).
  • CBS remained in last place with 10% LGBT-inclusive hours of primetime programming. After receiving their second “Failing” score in a row last year, however, they improved enough to receive an “Adequate” score this year.

Cable Networks:

  • In addition to ABC Family’s “Excellent” rating, Showtime (37%), TNT (33%), HBO (31%), Lifetime (31%), AMC (29%), and Syfy (22%) all received “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.
  • USA increased their LGBT-inclusive hours from 4% to 18%, which improved their score from “Failing” to “Adequate.”
  • For the fourth year in a row, A&E (5%) and TBS (5%) both received “Failing” ratings for their lack of LGBT-inclusive images.

According to GLAAD, one area in which all networks continue to struggle is the under-representation or misrepresentation of the transgender community. There were no regular or recurring transgender characters on any networks tracked in this year’s NRI.

The full Network Responsibility Index is available for download here.

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