For the third straight year ABC led its broadcast competitors in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) impressions in primetime, according to GLAAD’s 2009 Network Responsibility Index report.
The network registered LGBT impressions in 24% of its primetime hours. The report recognized the drama Brothers & Sisters in particular for its portrayal of three gay characters as well as Grey’s Anatomy, which features a bisexual lead character.
The analysis was divided up into broadcast and cable networks. In broadcast, GLAAD looked at all primetime programming from June 1, 2008 to May 31, 2009, a total of more than 4,900 programming hours. The cable sampling consisted of original primetime programming from Nielsen’s list of top basic and premium cable channels. The ten networks were A&E, FX, HBO, Lifetime, MTV, Sci Fi, Showtime, TBS, TNT, and USA. The original primetime programming offered across these networks, in the same year time period as broadcast, totaled more than 1,200 hours.
Among the other broadcast networks, the CW came in second with 20% LGBT-inclusive hours, a slight drop from last year’s 21%. Fox was third at 11%, followed by NBC (8%) and CBS (5%). Fox rose from 4% last year, thanks to the prominence of two bisexual characters on House and Bones, the report said. NBC rose 2% from last year, with new series Southland and Kings featuring gay characters and the inclusion of LGBT contestants on shows like America’s Got Talent. CBS fell 4% from last year’s report. ABC and the CW were issued “Good” grades for their impressions, Fox received an “Adequate” rating, while CBS and NBC earned “Failing” marks.
In cable, HBO ranked highest with 42% of its primetime hours containing LGBT-inclusive content. Showtime (26%) and TNT (19%) rounded out the top 3. At the bottom of the list were Sci Fi (8%) and A&E and TBS, which both tallied 1%.
In their overall recommendations, GLAAD commended ABC and the CW for remaining consistent in their LGBT visibility but said there was clear room for improvement on broadcast TV when the amount of LGBT-inclusive content was compared to cable.
The report also noted that, while strides were being made to reflect “the diverse world we live in,” on a bigger picture scale, most of the LGBT representations on TV were male and white. “Though many television series have excelled in ‘color blind casting,’ it is still rare to see LGBT people of color on television, leaving many LGBT viewers struggling to find images that reflect their lives and communities,” the report stated.