Report: Nets improving diversity in primetime

Fox gets top marks, nets progress with American Latinos

The major broadcast webs have slowly started tapping more Latino and Asian-American talent, according to the latest report from the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition.

Releasing its fourth annual “Report Card” study on Monday, the group — formed four years ago to encourage more diversity in primetime — gave top marks to Fox, followed by NBC and ABC, with CBS slightly behind.

The National Latino Media Council and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition both gave all four networks letter grades based on their fall 2003 performance in several categories, such as on-air actors, directors and writer-producers.

All four nets scored higher with the Latino group: Overall, the NLMC gave Fox a B+, ABC a B and CBS and NBC a C+.

“There has finally been progress at all four networks in terms of American Latinos,” said retired Rep. Esteban Torres, chairman of the media coalition and of the NLMC. “This has been a good reporting period for Latinos. Network numbers are finally reflecting the importance of our community in terms of our demographics.”

Torres pointed to several Latino-led series recently entering primetime, such as “The George Lopez Show” and “Luis.”

The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition was less pleased with the networks, giving Fox and NBC a B-, ABC a C- and CBS a D+ overall.

“The new fall shows are stunning in the near total absence of APAs in any role of significance,” said APA Media Coalition chairwoman Karen Narasaki. “The networks can and should be doing better in including APAs in all aspects of the industry.”

The NAACP — which helped launched the group in 1999, when the four networks signed diversity-minded “Memorandums of Understanding” — is no longer involved with the coalition. A third group, the American Indians in Film and Television, declined to issue a report card.

Alongside their concerns, the coalition gave kudos to the networks for investing in outreach programs and diversity programs. CBS, for example, has launched a Diversity Institute, while Fox received strong grades for “network commitment to diversity initiatives.”

Fox diversity chief Mitsy Wilson said she was encouraged by the coalition’s marks, across all four networks.

“Collectively, we work very hard as a core group of diversity execs,” she said. “We conference call every Wednesday … there’s so much we do as a group that I’m glad to see that the collective body is beginning to have impact.”

ABC Television Network prexy Alex Wallau, who was singled out by Torres in the NLMC’s report, called achieving true diversity a “high priority.”

“We have more that needs to get done and are working every day to find new and creative ways to further this important effort,” he said.

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