For the first time since GLAAD debuted its Network Responsibility Index in 2006, a broadcast network – Fox – has received a grade of Excellent, for its LGBT-inclusive content. Fox joins ABC Family in earning highest marks from GLAAD in its ninth, and final, annual NRI report. This time the annual look at LGBT content on networks considered programming that aired between June 2014 and May 2015.
Fox’s “milestone highlights real change across the media landscape – especially considering that the network received a ‘Failing’ grade in the NRI’s first two editions,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis noted in this morning’s announcement.
This year’s Failing grade went to A&E and History.
ABC, CW, FX, HBO, MTV and Showtime received a grade of Good in this year’s report. NBC fell to Adequate, joining CBS, TLC, TNT and USA.
GLAAD said it’s the last time it will put out this report; the org will turn its focus to increasing diversity of LGBT images on TV through its annual Where We Are On TV report. “As representations of LGBT people in the media continue to rise in number, pushing television networks to make those representations more diverse is more crucial than ever. This requires a different set of tools than the NRI provides, and as such GLAAD will shift focus to its annual TV diversity and transgender reports,” Ellis explained.
Among this year’s findings: Fox featured the highest percentage of LGBT-inclusive original programming hours, coming in at 45.4%, which is also the highest percentage GLAAD has tracked on a broadcast network since the NRI’s inception. Thanks to series such as Empire, the network also had the second-most racially diverse representations on broadcast, with 36% of its LGBT impressions made by people of color.
CW led in racial diversity of its LGBT characters, with 38% of impressions being made by people of color. CW also had the second-highest percentage of inclusive programming hours, with 44.8% of its original programming hours including LGBT people. The CW also had the highest percentage of LGBT impressions, though GLAAD deemed many of the impressions to be “minor” rather than “major.”
ABC produced the highest volume of LGBT-inclusive content, with 258.5 hours or 32% of its original programming. Only 17% of the network’s LGBT impressions were made by people of color, the lowest of any broadcast network.
ABC Family posted the highest-ever percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming for any network tracked in the NRI previously. Not only did 74% of its original programming include LGBT impressions, but 79% of those were lesbian characters, 49% were people of color, and the network also featured a transgender character played by a transgender actor.
NBC saw a significant drop in its LGBT-inclusive original programming hours this year, from 37% to 28%. The racial diversity of NBC’s LGBT impressions improved significantly, however, with LGBT people of color depictions rising from just 11% last year to 32% this year. NBC also included more transgender impressions than any other broadcast network, with 4.7% of its LGBT-inclusive hours featuring transgender people or characters, due in part to the drama series American Odyssey.
GLAAD noted that, as has often been the case, CBS came in last among the broadcast networks in LGBT-inclusive hours (27%) which is a slight decrease from last year (28%). As in years past, the majority of its LGBT-inclusive hours (53%) came from unscripted or reality programming such as The Amazing Race and Big Brother.
Near the bottom, A&E was again next to last with just 8% of its programming containing LGBT impressions, which is a slight increase from last year’s 6%. A&E’s showing was, however, significantly better than that of History network, GLAAD said. That network aired approximately 362.5 hours of original programming, none of which featured a single LGBT impression that GLAAD could identify.