The Big Four programming chiefs, fielding questions at the annual Intl. Radio & Television luncheon, were asked about what they were doing to open the doors to minorities in the business. CBS Entertainment Group president Peter Tortorici admitted his network had once been a leader in putting minorities behind and in front of the camera, but that during the last decade, CBS had lost ground. Tortorici said recent deals signed with such high-profile African-American producers as Thomas Carter and Keenen Ivory Wayans, plus a pact with director Spike Lee, were an attempt to open the doors wider at CBS.
His ABC counterpart, Ted Harbert, mentioned a “six-figure” program the network was funding to develop Hispanic writers and producers with the Writers Guild. NBC’s top programmer, Warren Littlefield, said the networks had received “a wakeup call” and needed to do more to move minorities into the ranks of decision makers. Fox’s John Matoian noted that between 20% and 25% of staff working in front of and behind the camera at the weblet were minorities.
Nobody mentioned that there wasn’t a single minority member included in the three tiers of industry leaders on the IRTS dais in the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom.