TELEVISION NETWORKS SHOW DECLINE IN LATINO DIVERSITY
By Selicia Kennedy-Ross
Mainstream American television networks are showing a vast decline in diversity, particularly in terms of featuring Latinos on-air and behind the camera, the National Latino Media Council announced this week.
Deadline.com reports (http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/terrible-year-for-latinos-at-u-s-networks/) that three of the four major mainstream U.S. networks: CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX did poorly in terms of diversity during the 2009-2010 season, according to the National Latino Media Council (NLMC), which held a press conference this week to release the annual Television Network Report Cards. The NLMC report is intended to review the television networks’ commitment to diversity in both scripted and reality programming in terms of progress and areas that need improvement. According to the NLMC: “networks earn overall diversity performance grades, as well as specific grades based on their employment of Latino actors in primetime scripted and reality programming, Latino writers, producers and directors in primetime programming, and Latino entertainment executives. Specific grades are also assigned for program development, procurement and network commitment to diversity and transparency.”
“This was a terrible year for Latinos at the networks,” said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition in a press statement. “African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans posted impressive gains in most categories, but when it came to Latinos, the networks failed us.
“We only want what we deserve as the largest minority consumer population in the nation,” he added.
CBS received the highest grade of the four networks overall, earning a solid “B+” for its commitment to diversity in programming. However, along with its praise for CBS, the NLMC recommended the network increase its use of Latino actors in both scripted and reality shows as well as Latino producers, writers and directors.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall could be the phrase to describe ABC’s score of a disappointing “B-.” According to the NLMC report card, ABC has generally been a “model network” in the past in terms of diversity, however, this past year the network fell vastly short in several key areas including its glaring lack of Latino producers, actors, directors and entertainment executives. This shift in support of diversity programming was especially evident in the network’s abrupt and unexpected cancellation of the popular scripted comedy-drama “Ugly Betty,” which centered around a Latina lead character, for instance.
NBC Universal also fell short in several of the same key areas including the absence of Latino producers, actors, writers and directors. However, the coalition conceded that while NBC Universal was in serious need of improvement, the network showed some progress with its overall score of “B-”, which was slightly higher than last year’s grade. NLMC also mentioned that it saw promise for the future and “expects this momentum will continue if and when Comcast acquires NBCU.”
The FOX network fell short in all areas, scoring the lowest among the four networks with an overall grade of “C+”. The report card cited several key areas where the network needed vast improvement such as hiring more scripted actors, writers, producers and executives but conceded that that Fox had done well in terms of recruiting Latino actors for its reality shows. However, the NLMC report also noted that the network’s numbers were difficult to verify because FOX did not provide a complete list of employees.