Today the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) held a press conference to release the annual Television Network Report Cards. NLMC is disappointed that this annual diversity report card reflects a decline in Latino diversity at the four major television networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. The report card summarizes progress and shortfalls of the networks' diversity efforts during the 2009-2010 television season. Networks earn overall diversity performance grades, as well as specific grades based on their employment of Latino actors in primetime scripted and reality programming, Latino writers, producers and directors in primetime programming, and Latino entertainment executives. Specific grades are also assigned for program development, procurement and network commitment to diversity and transparency.
Last year NLMC celebrated the tenth anniversary of a national movement to change the face of television: the historic signing of Memoranda of Understanding between the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition and the four networks. "A year ago we lauded the networks for incremental progress in diversifying their workforces in front and behind the camera," said Congressman Esteban Torres, Board Chair of the National Latino Media Council, "this year the networks, while more representative of our multicultural nation than they were a decade ago, are in need of reaffirming their commitments to including Latinos in creative positions and procurement opportunities."
The retired U.S. Congressman went on to report the diversity grades earned by the four networks. Fox has a number of areas in which it needs improvement. It has done well with recruiting Latino reality actors, Latino writers and producers, and has three Latino entertainment executives. Yet, Latinos are underrepresented at Fox in several areas, including scripted actors, directors, and procurement. It should be noted that Fox's numbers are very difficult to verify because it does not produce the names of the employees for which it takes credit. Lack of transparency has been an ongoing problem with Fox, and NLMC urges Fox to improve upon this next year. Because of its failings, Fox's overall grade is a "C+". ABC has been a model network in its commitment to diversity. However, this year ABC earned an overall grade of "B-" because it slipped in several key areas, to include recurring and reality actors, directors and entertainment executives. NBC Universal also declined in several categories and earned an overall "B-" grade. Although there is substantial room for improvement at NBCU, it did slightly better than last year, and NLMC expects this momentum will continue if and when Comcast acquires NBCU. NBCU is struggling in several areas to include a very low number of Latino actors on its scripted programming, and disappointing numbers of Latino writers, producers and directors. CBS earned the best overall grade of all the networks for Latino diversity with a "B+". Nonetheless, CBS certainly has room for improvement. In particular, it must increase its number of Latino scripted regulars and Latino reality actors, as well as its Latino writers, producers and directors.
"This was a terrible year for Latinos at the networks," said Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, "African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans posted impressive gains in most categories, but when it came to Latinos, the networks failed us." He added, "Don't misunderstand, we don't want what African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans received, the pie is much larger than that, we only want what we deserve as the largest minority consumer population in the nation."
Press conference speakers included Congressman Esteban Torres (Ret.), Board Chair of the National Latino Media Council, Alex Nogales, National Latino Media Council Secretariat and President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Bel Hernandez, Co-founder of Latin Heat Entertainment, amongst others. Click here to read the complete 2010 NLMC Network Diversity Report Card Narrative.