For the first time in the same year, GLAAD rates three networks – ABC Family, HBO, and MTV - as "Excellent" in eighth annual Network Responsibility Index

GLAAD announces that networks will need significant transgender content to receive "Excellent" grades moving forward. GLAAD finds 3.9% of regular characters in primetime scripted broadcast to be LGBT in 19th Where We Are on TV report.
October 1, 2014

Matt Kane
Director of Entertainment & Sports Media, GLAAD
(323) 634-2013
mkane@glaad.org

Seth Adam
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8018
seth@glaad.org

Los Angeles, CA - GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, today released its two annual television reports – the 8th annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) and the 19th annual Where We Are on TV report.  The reports map the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT representation on television.

To view the full reports visit: http://glaad.org/tvreport14

While GLAAD’s NRI looks backward at the previous season and rates networks on LGBT-inclusive content that aired between June 2013 and May 2014, the Where We Are on TV report is a character-count and analysis of scripted characters in the upcoming 2014-2015 season.

For the first time in its Network Responsibility Index, which rates LGBT content on networks during the 2013-2014 TV season that wrapped earlier this year, three different networks earned "Excellent" grades in the same year: ABC Family, HBO, and MTV. The grades of Excellent, Good, Adequate, or Failing are awarded based on the quality, diversity, and relative quantity of LGBT representations in each network's original programming.

In its Where We Are on TV report, which counts the number of LGBT characters in the 2014-2015 television season, GLAAD found that 3.9% of primetime broadcast scripted series regulars will be lesbian, gay or bisexual characters, an increase from 3.3% last year. In addition, GLAAD counted 33 recurring lesbian, gay or bisexual characters on broadcast scripted series, though none of the broadcast characters counted are transgender. GLAAD also counted 64 regular and 41 recurring LGBT characters on primetime scripted cable series.

"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 President and 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."

8th Annual Network Responsibility Index (LGBT content from 2013 – 2014)

The NRI examined original primetime programming on the five broadcast networks and 10 cable networks from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. Based on the overall quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT representation, a grade was assigned to each network: Excellent, Good, Adequate, or Failing.

  • For the first time, three networks earned a grade of “Excellent” in the same year: ABC Family, HBO, and MTV. This is the second Excellent grade for both MTV and ABC Family.
  • Good: ABC, The CW, FOX, NBC, FX, Showtime
  • Adequate: CBS, TLC, USA
  • Failing: A&E, History, TNT

GLAAD is officially announcing that, moving forward, networks must feature significant transgender content in their original programming in order to receive a grade of Excellent in the NRI.

“To be relevant to our audience, we must reflect the world as they experience it, and we know that experience is based on valuing loving relationships, no matter the gender.  This acknowledgment is especially gratifying because it means we are representing their view accurately,” said Tom Ascheim, President of ABC Family.  “We will continue to deliver programming where differences are acknowledged and celebrated.”

"This recognition from GLAAD belongs to those in the writing room, on set and in the editing bay but we are honored to be their partner and provide a home where they can tell their stories," said Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.  "At HBO we feel if we are not telling diverse stories then we are missing out on some of the best stories.  It is a part of our history and an ongoing commitment. "

“For MTV to fully connect with young people, we have to represent our entire audience in all its brilliant diversity, which includes people of every sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV & Logo TV. “We’re honored to receive GLAAD’s recognition, and are committed to airing the stories of LGBTQ young people – to provide our audience characters they can relate to, and to bring new voices from the LGBTQ community into living rooms across the country.”

Beginning in the 2014 report, the NRI will track only original primetime programming hours for broadcast networks, rather than also including hours of repeats as has typically been the case. This will allow for direct comparisons between broadcast and cable.

19th Annual Where We Are on TV (LGBT content from 2014 – 2015)

The Where We Are on TV report analyzes the diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and looks at the number of LGBT characters on cable networks.

  • Out of 813 primetime broadcast scripted series regulars, 32 will be LGBT this year, or 3.9%. This is up from 3.3% last year but still down from the record high of 2012 when 4.4% of primetime broadcast scripted regular characters were LGBT. In addition, GLAAD found 33 recurring LGBT characters on primetime broadcast series.
  • FOX showed an increase this year with 6.5% of primetime broadcast scripted regulars being lesbian, gay or bisexual, the highest percentage among broadcast nets. ABC, which tied with FOX for first place last year, has dropped to 4.5% of primetime regular characters on the network being LGBT. NBC is in third place at 3.8%, up from 1% last year. CBS is in fourth for the second year in a row with 3.2% of its regular characters being LGBT, up from 1.9% last year, while The CW will have no regular LGBT characters.
  • Of the 813 overall regular characters on broadcast primetime, the percentage of female characters has declined to 40% from 43% last year.  People of color will make up 27% of all regular characters, while just 1.4% will be depicted as people with disabilities.
  • Of the 65 LGBT regular and recurring characters on broadcast networks, 43% (28) are women and 26% are people of color. While last year a transgender character was amongst the primetime broadcast series regulars (Unique on FOX's Glee), this year there are none.
  • On cable, GLAAD counted 64 regular LGBT characters, up from 42 last season. An additional 41 recurring characters were counted. HBO will have the most characters 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 people of color. Only one transgender character, Cole on The Fosters, was counted.

GLAAD’s annual TV reports not only propel national conversations about LGBT representation, but inform GLAAD’s own advocacy work within the television industry.  GLAAD uses this yearly data to create a clearer picture of the stories and images being presented by television networks, and to encourage networks to include diverse LGBT representations within them. The next NRI and Where We Are on TV will be released in 2015.