NEW YORK — HBO scored highest among 15 networks for its representation of gay characters last season, according to a report released Monday.
In its third annual Network Responsibility Index, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found that of HBO's 14 original prime-time series, 10 included content reflecting the lives of gay, bisexual and transgender people. That totaled 42 percent of the network's programming hours, in series such as "True Blood," "Entourage" and "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency."
By contrast, on NBC and CBS only 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively, of prime-time hours included them, the report said.
For the report, GLAAD reviewed all prime-time programming – totaling 4,901 hours – for inclusion of such characters or issues on the five major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW) from June 1, 2008, to May 31, 2009. The study also examined all original prime-time programming – 1,213 hours – on 10 prominent cable networks. The programming included dramas, comedies, unscripted fare and newsmagazines.
Cable's Showtime ranked second, with 26 percent of its programming hours featuring gay characters or themes. Series included "The L Word," "Weeds" and "The United States of Tara," a new comedy about a family whose teenage son is gay.
ABC got the highest ranking of the five broadcast networks, with 24 percent. It was the second year in a row that ABC led the broadcasters.
Among ABC series, the report cited newlyweds Kevin and Scotty on "Brothers & Sisters," the engagement of Andrew to Dr. Alex Cominis on "Desperate Housewives" and bisexual Dr. Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy."
The CW logged 20 percent, and the Fox network 11 percent, the report said.
Among the sampling of cable networks evaluated, TNT showed the largest growth, jumping to 19 percent last season from 1 percent the year before. This was largely thanks to its new drama series, "Raising the Bar," which features gay law clerk Charlie Sagansky as a regular character, GLAAD said.
"Television shows that weave our stories into the fabric of the series present richer, more diverse representations," said Rashad Robinson, GLAAD's senior director of media programs.
In September, GLAAD will release its annual report evaluating gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion, and other diversity, among scripted characters scheduled to appear during the 2009-10 season. Monday's report said TV characters in general are predominantly white, regardless of sexual orientation.
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