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The networks and diversity: patches of progress

October 30, 2007 |  4:26 pm

Closely mirroring last year’s findings, a coalition of minority advocacy groups Tuesday concluded that the four major networks had made some progress in increasing ethnic diversity in front of and behind the camera but still fell short in demonstrating an overall commitment to cultural diversity in their prime-time lineups.

Betty The conclusions by the National Latino Media Council, American Indians in Film and Television and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition were part of their seventh annual report cards measuring strides made by CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox to boost minority representation.  In 1999, those networks forged an agreement with the minority groups, and with the NAACP, to increase diversity.

Esteban Torres, chairman of the National Latino Media Council, said ABC was given excellent grades for placing Latino talent in each of the network’s most popular series, and for its success with the comedy “Ugly Betty.”  The group also gave marks ranging from B+ to B- to CBS, NBC and Fox.

Karen Narasaki, the head of the Asian Pacific Media Coalition, said she was particularly concerned about the lack of commitment to development deals with Asian Pacific Americans writers and talent. The group awarded a C+ to Fox and NBC, and a C to both CBS and ABC.

Leaders for American Indians in Film and Television did not award grades but charged each of the networks with largely ignoring American Indians in front of and behind the camera.  “We are the invisible Americans,” said spokesman Mark Reed, adding that he was encouraged by assurances from the networks that the presence of American Indians would increase.

The NAACP did not participate in the report, but representatives said the organization would issue its own diversity findings in November.

Fox was the only one of the four networks to respond to the report.  Executives at that network said in a statement that they were dedicated to their diversity efforts.

-- Greg Braxton

(Photo courtesy ABC)

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