GLAAD Report Finds Gains in LGBT Characters on Broadcast, Cable

The number of LGBT characters in primetime series continues to grow, particularly on cable, according to GLAAD’s latest survey of primetime programming.

GLAAD’s annual report on the state of LGBT representation on the small screen finds that 3.9% of series-regular characters featured on broadcast TV in the 2014-15 season will be LGBT, up from 3.3% from last season. That’s still down from the peak of 4.4% in the 2012-13 season.

Among networks, in a survey of programming from the 2013-14 season, GLAAD assigned a grade of “excellent” to HBO, MTV and ABC Family for the quantity and diversity of LGBT characters featured. ABC, CW, Fox, FX, NBC and Showtime were rated as good, while CBS, TLC and USA Network were cited as adequate. History, A&E and TNT were rated as failing.

GLAAD’s study examines programming on the Big Four nets and CW and 10 top cablers.

The report emphasized the lack of transgender characters on broadcast and cable TV at a time when digital networks are making headlines with shows that address the transgender community. In the coming season GLAAD found no transgender characters on broadcast TV and only one on cable, in ABC Family’s “The Fosters” (pictured). The org noted that as of next year, nets will need to have “significant” transgender content to receive an excellent rating.

“Television networks are playing a key role in promoting cultural understanding of LGBT lives around the world, and are now producing some of the best LGBT-inclusive programming we’ve yet seen,” said GLAAD prexy-CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “As they move forward with new programs and storylines, networks must also keep an eye towards diversity and strive to include significant transgender content comparable to those efforts being made by their online competitors, such as Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black’ and Amazon’s ‘Transparent.’ “

Among the other survey findings:

  • Fox registered the highest year-to-year gain among broadcast networks in LGBT characters , with 6.5% of characters on its shows.  ABC was No. 2 with 4.5%, followed by NBC (3.8%) and CBS (3.2%).
  • Of the 65 LGBT regular and recurring characters on broadcast networks, 43% (28) are women and 26% are minorities.
  • Cable networks surveyed had 64 regular LGBT characters, up from 42 last season. HBO has the most with a total of 15 regular or recurring characters expected, followed by ABC Family and Showtime with 13 characters each. Of those LGBT characters, 44% are women and 34% are minorities.

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