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GLAAD Study Reveals the Highest Number of LGBT Characters Ever for 2008-2009 Television Season

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By GLAAD |
September 23, 2008

Los Angeles, September 23, 2008The overall number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representations on the broadcast networks will more than double this year after a three-year slump, according to an analysis of the 2008-2009 television season conducted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

GLAAD's 13th annual "Where We Are On TV" report shows that LGBT representations will account for 2.6% of all scripted series regular characters on the 2008-2009 broadcast television schedule, up from 1.4% in 2005, 1.3% in 2006, and 1.1% in 2007. In contrast, the number of LGBT series regular characters found on scripted programming on mainstream cable networks has decreased since last year's analysis, from 40 to 32.

For 13 years, GLAAD's report has analyzed the characters on the networks' primetime scripted programming. From information provided by the five broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW – GLAAD examined 88 scripted comedies and dramas announced to air this upcoming season, and counted a total of 616 characters, 16 of which are LGBT – more than twice the number of characters, seven, announced at the launch of the 2007-2008 season.

"This dramatic increase shows how far many networks have come in developing complex, multi-layered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters," says GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. "Our analysis also shows where there's still work to be done. This past year, we've seen some real progress from Fox towards making their scripted programming more inclusive, which is something we're hoping to see from other networks like CBS."

Fox, which featured zero series regular LGBT characters at the launch of last season, has announced five LGBT characters out of 97 total series regular characters for 2008-2009. The network now has the highest percentage of LGBT characters on any network (5%). ABC continues to excel as it did last year, with seven LGBT characters out of 166 total series regular characters (4%), the highest number of LGBT characters of any network. NBC has three series regular LGBT characters (2%) out of a total of 147. On the negative side, CBS has the most disappointing showing, with not a single LGBT series regular character out of 126, and only one recurring character in the entire series lineup. Additionally, The CW's lack of scripted representation is now merely a close second to CBS, as the network has only one scripted series regular LGBT character. For a complete list of LGBT characters on broadcast television, visit www.glaad.org/eye/ontv/2008/broadcast.php.

The number of non-contract recurring LGBT characters has also risen – from 13 last season to 19 this year. "The growing number of recurring characters is another example of the networks' progress towards being more inclusive," says Giuliano. "As the networks gradually add characters from all backgrounds and walks of life to primetime programming, more and more Americans are seeing their LGBT friends and neighbors reflected on the small screen."

On the mainstream cable networks, the number of announced LGBT series regular characters dropped to 32 from last year's high of 40. The presence of LGBT-focused cable networks here! and Logo, which program specifically for LGBT viewers, add an additional 39 series regular LGBT characters. For a complete analysis of  LGBT characters on cable, visit www.glaad.org/eye/ontv/2008/cable.php.

This marks the fourth year that GLAAD has analyzed the breakdown of the race, gender and ethnicity of all the 616 series regular characters expected to appear on the broadcast networks in the upcoming season. Male characters continue to outweigh female characters 57% (354) to 43% (262) in overall numbers, while 79% (485) of all series regular characters are white, up 2% from last year. Latino/a representation remains at 6% (34) while black representation has dropped from 12% to 11% (67). Analysts counted 19 Asian-Pacific Islander characters (3%), one more than last season. View a complete analysis of diversity on the broadcast networks at www.glaad.org/eye/ontv/2008/diversity.php.

Complete results of GLAAD's "Where We Are On TV" report can be viewed or downloaded at www.glaad.org/eye/ontv.

Watch the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Bravo September 29, 2008 at 6:00 PM ET/PT or October 2, 2008 at 2:00 AM ET/PT for your chance to win a trip to London (visit http://www.glaad.org/MediaAwards for more information). The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.

About GLAAD
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org.