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Gay Characters
Decline on Network TV

Gay Characters
Decline on Network TV

Only seven regular series characters on broadcast networks' scripted television shows this fall will be LGBT characters, a three-character decline from 2005.

The number of gay characters depicted on TV is falling on network series but rising on cable, a study by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found.

In the 2007-2008 TV season, broadcast series will feature seven regularly seen characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, down from nine characters in 2006 and 10 the season before, GLAAD said. Most are on one network, ABC.

The new figure represents 1.1% of all regular characters on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CW, compared with 1.3% in 2006, according to the study to be released Monday. A total of 87 comedies and dramas with 650 characters were analyzed.

By comparison, cable shows will feature 40 gay characters as series regulars, GLAAD said.

''While we acknowledge there have been improvements made in how we are seen on the broadcast networks, most notably on ABC, our declining representation clearly indicates a failure to inclusively reflect the audience watching television,'' GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement.

The seven broadcast characters appear on five shows, including Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, The Office, and the new mid-season series Cashmere Mafia.

ABC shows are home to six of the seven, with one on NBC. There were no lead or supporting gay or transgender characters set to appear on CBS, Fox, or CW, GLAAD found.

Last year the characters were spread among five networks. However, there will be an additional 13 gay characters seen occasionally on broadcast TV shows this season, compared with five recurring characters last year.

That increase ''suggests that producers and writers are showing a guarded interest in being inclusive without making the characters lead or supporting,'' GLAAD said in a release, noting that gay characters on Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives first appeared as recurring before being added to the regular cast.

ABC, Fox, and CW declined requests for comment, while NBC and CBS did not immediately respond.

The ''real advances'' in gay depiction on TV are being made on cable channels, GLAAD said.

The 40 regular characters depicted on 21 scripted shows on cable channels, including HBO, Showtime, and FX, represents 15 more characters than last year, the study found.

GLAAD has issued its ''Where We Are on TV'' report on gay characters for 12 years. For the past three years the organization also has looked at representation of minorities, men, and women on broadcast TV.

Whites make up 77% of network series regular characters, up 2% from last year. Blacks remained steady at 12% and Asian-Pacific Islanders at 3%, while Latinos dropped from 7% to 6%.

Male characters outweighed females 58% to 42% on network shows.

CW, although lacking gay characters, ranked first in overall diversity, with ethnic minorities making up 32% of its series regulars, the study found. (AP)

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