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NAACP’S Mfume rakes nets

Nets' 'snail's pace' in reforming could usher in boycott

The four major broadcast networks have failed to improve the number of minorities in front of and behind the cameras, NAACP prexy-CEO Kweisi Mfume charged Wednesday.

Speaking at a Los Angeles press conference, Mfume said some of the webs had exhibited a “snail’s pace reaction” to attracting more nonwhite faces. Mfume also unveiled a new NAACP study showing slight gains for minority actors on the air but little change in the executive ranks.

“There is practically no representation of people of color in the top echelon of production, which is the nucleus of the industry,” Mfume said. “Whether the paucity of minority executives at the networks, studios or other entities is because of nepotism or cronyism, or racial discrimination, the results are the same.”

Mfume singled out the webs’ news, public affairs and sports departments as exhibiting the least amount of progress.

As he has in the past, Mfume said the NAACP would consider boycotting one of the networks and/or that net’s advertisers or a class-action lawsuit against the webs if his org didn’t believe progress has been made during the 2001-02 TV season.

Mfume said his group also might press to revisit the one-time financial/syndication rules, which had limited the nets’ ownership of their own programming, or find a way to use the FCC rule that requires stations to air at least three hours of educational programming a week in order to push for more minority-themed programming.

“The NAACP believes that if there is not a greater forum of opportunities for qualified men and women to compete in without being discriminated (against), then class-action litigation must be pursued,” he said.

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