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Sixth annual Network Responsibility Index finds LGBT stories central part of TV landscape

Thursday, August 30, 2012
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LOS ANGELES — The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) on Thursday released its sixth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) — a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on television — and for the third year in a row, The CW was the top broadcast network with 29 percent of its prime time programming hours being LGBT-inclusive.

According to GLAAD, images of LGBT representations and families are increasingly presented as matter-of-fact manner rather than a curiosity, but diversity of LGBT impressions on the broadcast networks declined slightly from last year, with 66 percent of LGBT impressions being white.

“Americans expect to see their off-screen worlds represented onscreen and today more than ever that includes LGBT people and families,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick.

“Storylines of families like Mitchell and Cameron on Modern Family and young people like Emily on Pretty Little Liars are not only growing acceptance of our community, but have found praise from viewers and critics alike at a time when visibility and acceptance of LGBT people is at an all-time high.”

Graddick added that “including an ethnically diverse cast of characters will not only be a more accurate reflection of the LGBT community, but will also give programs the opportunity to build authentic and complex storylines.”

Among the broadcast networks, GLAAD reported:

  • The CW remains the top broadcast network with 29% of its prime time programming hours being LGBT-inclusive, attributed in large part to the judges and contestants of “America’s Next Top Model.” And with the addition of drama “The L.A. Complex,” The CW is also one of
    the few networks on broadcast or cable to feature black LGBT characters in lead or supporting roles, and registered the most racial diversity with 62% of impressions made by LGBT people/characters of color.
  • ABC improved enough (+4%) thanks to “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Happy Endings.”
  • Fox, whose main representations were from “Glee,” declined enough (-5%) for the two to swap places for second and third place in percentage of inclusive hours compared to last year.
  • NBC remained in fourth place despite an increase of 4% in LGBT inclusive hours.
  • For the fourth year in a row CBS remained in last place with 8% LGBT-inclusive hours of primetime programming, dropping 2 percentage points from last year. After receiving an “Adequate” score last year, the network is back to a “Failing” score.

Among cable networks:

  • Showtime (46%), ABC Family (34%), TNT (34%), and HBO (33%) all received “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.
  • MTV (23%) which received an “Excellent” score two years ago received an “Adequate” score this year along with FX (34%), TLC (20%) and USA (17%).
  • For the fourth year in a row TBS (5%) received a “Failing” rating, as did the History network (3%).

Transgender representation continues to be low on nearly every television network, reported GLAAD, and transgender story lines are often exploitative and overtly negative; as were recorded on several series on Showtime this year, which prevented the network from receiving an “Excellent” score.

One of the highlights in transgender images this year was Chaz Bono’s appearance on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which sparked national conversations about the community and created a momentum in transgender representation in reality television.

“The appearance of Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars was a groundbreaking step in transgender representation on television this year,” said Graddick. “His very candid appearance on the program taught many that transgender Americans deserve respect and acceptance.”

GLAAD’s complete 2012 Network Responsibility Index report is here (PDF).

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