By PHOEBE MOSES
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has published its annual Network Responsibility Index, a measure of representation of LGBT characters and issues, and how they are presented in mass media platforms. The 2012 Index is a reflection of the shifting dynamic in television entertainment and issue programming, and how they reflect the modern LGBT—and American—landscape.
Among broadcast networks, The CW—a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros—earned top place, while cable networks HBO, Showtime, TNT, and ABC Family were awarded “good” ratings. Two cable networks, TBS and History (formerly the History Channel), netted failing marks for their non-satisfactory representation of LGBT people and issues. A closer look at the GLAAD Index:
• With 29 percent of its primetime programming hours considered to be LGBT-inclusive, The CW continues as the top gay-friendly (from a content perspective) broadcast network, and takes preeminent place as most racially-diverse (62 percent of impressions made by LGBT persons/ characters of color”.
• A 4 percent improvement by ABC and a coeval 5 percent decline at Fox caused the networks to “make the switch” at second and third places in percentage of inclusive hours.
• Although NBC had a net gain in LGBT-inclusive hours of 4 percent, it wasn’t enough to get it out of the closet—or basement, if you prefer, of fourth place.
• CBS remains in last place for the fourth year in a row, with just 8 percent of its primetime programming considered to be LGBT-inclusive. Worse, the numbers represent a net DROP of 2 percent since last year, taking it down from a 2011 score of “Adequate” to this year’s rating of “Failing.”
• Among cable networks, Showtime (46 percent), ABC Family (34 percent), TNT (34 percent), and HBO (33 percent) received “Good” ratings.
• Although the youth cable brand scored an “Excellent” rating just two years ago, at 23 percent MTV dropped to “Adequate” this year, along with FX (34 percent), TLC (20 percent), and USA (17 percent).
• For the fourth year in a row, both TBS (5 percent) and History (3 percent) received an Index rating of “Failing.” Although the 2012 Index acknowledges that transgender people remain underrepresented, there was encouragement on the “T” front. “The appearance of Chaz Bono on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ was a groundbreaking step in transgender representation on television this year,” noted Herndon Graddick, President of GLAAD.
“His very candid appearance on the program taught many that transgender Americans deserve respect and acceptance.