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July 13, 2008

ABC, FX top GLAAD report

FX was named the most responsible channel in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's first-ever ranking of cable networks. ABC again was given the best grade among broadcasters, and Fox was ranked the worst.

The second annual GLAAD Network Responsibility Index examined 4,911 hours of primetime programming on the five major networks, plus 1,241 hours of original programming on 10 of the most-watched cable networks. The index sought to gauge the quantity, quality and diversity of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on television. Eight of the networks were given passing grades.

ABC -- led by "Brothers & Sisters," "Desperate Housewives" and "Ugly Betty" -- was given a grade of "good," with the highest score among broadcasters. The report said 24% of ABC's programming hours was considered inclusive. The report praised "Brothers & Sisters" in particular for portraying the first gay marriage on television.

The CW, driven by "America's Next Top Model," was a close second (21%). The report said the scores of ABC and the CW significantly increased this year and added that the CW was the most ethnically diverse broadcast network.

CBS was rated "adequate" (9%), and NBC (6%) and Fox (4%) were both labeled "failing," with their scores decreasing slightly this year. The report added that the quality of gay characters on NBC increased across several shows, but its score dropped overall because of the departure of Laura Innes' lesbian character, Kerry Weaver, from "ER."

"Time and again we see that what people watch on TV shapes how they view and treat the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around them," GLAAD president Neil Giuliano said. "ABC and FX are leading the way when it comes to telling our stories, showing other networks that including images of our community can go hand in hand with critical and commercial success."

Among the cable networks evaluated, FX (45%) came out on top, mainly thanks to "Nip/Tuck." HBO (26%) and Showtime (32%) also were considered "good," with HBO also called the most ethnically diverse cable network. Lifetime (10%) and MTV (16%) were "adequate." A&E (4%), Spike (10%), TBS (7%), USA Network (4%) and TNT (1%) were all ranked "failing."

None of the evaluated networks earned the survey's top ranking of "excellent."

The report also noted that most of the hours that counted for networks were thanks to portraying gay men.

"If television viewers -- both gay and straight -- understand the LGBT community to be a group comprised almost exclusively of white gay men, we have a serious problem," Giuliano wrote.


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