GLAAD, the nation’s GLBT media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today released its sixth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI), a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of GLBT people on television. Primetime programming on the five broadcast networks was evaluated as well as original primetime programming on 10 major cable networks.

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The number of GLBT images has stabilized this year as the range of impressions continues to grow. Images of GLBT representations and families are increasingly presented as matter-of-fact manner rather than a curiosity. With 69 percent of GLBT impressions on broadcast networks made by gay men and 66 percent of GLBT-inclusive broadcast hours showcasing white people, the Network Responsibility Index also calls for networks to highlight the great ethnic and cultural diversity of the GLBT community.

For the first time this year GLAAD tracked two highly rated networks known for programming that traditionally appeals to a more conservative audience. History posted the lowest overall percentage (three percent) of GLBT inclusive hours of any networks tracked this year. TLC demonstrated that GLBT people can be represented in a wider range of programming formats and subjects with 20 percent of the 545.5 hours tracked by GLAAD including at least one GLBT impression.

“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.”

Broadcast Networks:

The CW remains the top broadcast network with 29 percent of its primetime programming hours being GLBT-inclusive. The CW also registered the most racial diversity with 62 percent of impressions made by GLBT people/characters of color.
ABC improved enough (+four percent) and Fox declined enough (-five percent) 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 four percent in GLBT inclusive hours.
For the fourth year in a row CBS remained in last place with eight percent GLBT-inclusive hours of primetime programming, dropping two percentage points from last year. After receiving an “Adequate” score last year, the network is back to a “Failing” score.

Cable Networks:

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

The diversity of GLBT impressions on the broadcast networks declined slightly from last year, with 66 percent of GLBT impressions being white. “Including an ethnically diverse cast of characters will not only be a more accurate reflection of the GLBT community but will also give programs the opportunity to build authentic and complex storylines.”

Transgender representation continues to be low on nearly every television network. Transgender inclusive hours recorded on broadcast television went from 0.002 percent last year to 0.01 percent this year, the number also remained extremely low for the cable networks tracked at 0.005 percent. Transgender storylines 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 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,” Graddick said. “His very candid appearance on the program taught many that transgender Americans deserve respect and acceptance.”

The 17th Annual GLAAD Where We Are On TV report on diversity will be issued in the fall. This analysis will count GLBT characters and storylines as well as the gender and race/ethnicity of all scripted characters scheduled to appear during the 2012-13 broadcast season.

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