The major broadcast networks have made big strides in the portrayal of Latinos in primetime, but still lag behind when it comes to images of Asian Americans and American Indians.
That’s the latest findings from the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, which released its seventh annual diversity report card Tuesday.
The alliance – made up of the National Latino Media Council, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and American Indians in Film and TV – gave improved marks when it came to showcasing Latinos both in front of and behind the camera.
“There has been incremental progress at all four networks in terms of American Latinos,” said Esteban Torres, National Latino Media Council chair. “The diversity programs that were begun six and seven years ago are now bearing fruit and it is not unreasonable to expect that the present numbers will continue to climb and that there will be no backsliding.”
Torres reserved his highest praise for ABC, which earned an A- from the Latino group. The council cited “Ugly Betty” and the inclusion of Latino thesps on several major shows.
“Latinos are seeing ourselves reflected on the screen,” Torres said.
Among other nets, the National Latino Media Coalition gave CBS a B+, NBC earned a B, and Fox was scored a B-.
Fewer advances have been made on the small screen among Asian Americans, said Karen Narasaki, chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition. Group pointed out that just 29 Asian Americans hold regular primetime roles, up only two from last year – and even then, she added, most are only minor players.
“When compared to other racial groups, Asian Pacific Americans are still far less likely to be in starring roles in primetime programming, although a number of shows are set in cities with high Asian Pacific American populations,” Narasaki said.
NBC and Fox tied for the highest grade, a C+, from the Asian Pacific American group, while ABC and CBS were both given C ratings.
As for the American Indian report card, the group passed on letter grades and instead simply pointed out that they’re still rarely seen on TV, or in the production process.
“The American Indian remains underrepresented and misunderstood in the 21st century,” said American Indians in Film and TV’s Mark Reed. “We are the invisible American.”