NBC, NAACP set initiatives

Minority hiring, onscreen presence to be addressed

NBC and the NAACP are set to unveil a series of initiatives this morning regarding minority hiring and onscreen representation.

Details of the initiatives were still hazy as of Tuesday afternoon, but the agreements include heightened efforts to include minorities in key roles on primetime series, as well as new programs to bolster the number of minorities on the Peacock’s employment rosters.

NBC president Bob Wright, NBC West Coast president Scott Sassa and NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume will outline the network’s endeavors at Wednesday’s press conference in New York.

“In the past you’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from the networks,” one network insider said. “This is a conscious effort to move beyond the rhetoric and do something concrete.”

Wednesday’s announcement will be the first time a network has jointly announced a series of initiatives with the NAACP since the controversy over the lack of minorities on television heated up last year.

Until recently, the NAACP and Mfume had threatened a network boycott — first during November sweeps and, when that deadline passed, during February.

Had the NAACP decided to boycott a network, many observers believed NBC would be a likely candidate.

It didn’t help when a scheduling shift forced reps from NBC, along with ABC and Fox, to walk out of an NAACP hearing in late November on the lack of diversity in primetime TV.

The three networks said their representatives were originally supposed to appear immediately after CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves, the only network chief to RSVP, but were then bumped to later in the afternoon.

Wednesday’s joint announcement also comes just weeks after the networks were set to return to the NAACP questionnaires that asked for raw employment and financial data related to the hiring of minorities.

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