Heads of ABC Family, HBO, MTV react to “Excellent” NRI grades

By Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis | October 1, 2014

This morning GLAAD released its 8th annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) mapping the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people on television between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014. For the first time in the Network Responsibility Index, three different networks earned “Excellent” grades in the same year: ABC Family, HBO, and MTV. This is the second “Excellent” score for both ABC Family and MTV.

Forty-two percent of ABC Family’s original primetime programming hours were LGBT-inclusive.  Thanks to characters like Emily on Pretty Little Liars and Lena on The Fosters, ABC Family featured the highest percentage of impressions made by lesbians (90%) and LGBT people of color (57%) among all ten cable networks tracked.

“To be relevant to our audience, we must reflect the world as they experience it, and we know that experience is based on valuing loving relationships, no matter the gender. This acknowledgment is especially gratifying because it means we are representing their view accurately,” said Tom Ascheim, President of ABC Family. “We will continue to deliver programming where differences are acknowledged and celebrated.”

Thirty-one percent of HBO’s primetime original programming hours were LGBT-inclusive. The network featured a wide variety of stories including TV movie The Normal Heart and documentaries Valentine Road and The Out List. Highly anticipated series Looking, which focuses on a group of gay male friends living in San Francisco, also premiered on HBO this year.

“This recognition from GLAAD belongs to those in the writing room, on set and in the editing bay but we are honored to be their partner and provide a home where they can tell their stories,” said Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “At HBO we feel if we are not telling diverse stories then we are missing out on some of the best stories. It is a part of our history and an ongoing commitment. “

MTV, which was the first network to receive an “Excellent” grade in the NRI, tied for the top spot among cable networks with 49% of their primetime programming including LGBT impressions this year. The network featured the highest percentage of bisexual (42%) impressions by any cable network tracked thanks to programs like Awkward.Faking It, and Wait ‘Til Next Year, as well as impressive gender and ethnic diversity among LGBT characters.

“For MTV to fully connect with young people, we have to represent our entire audience in all its brilliant diversity, which includes people of every sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV & Logo TV. “We’re honored to receive GLAAD’s recognition, and are committed to airing the stories of LGBTQ young people – to provide our audience characters they can relate to, and to bring new voices from the LGBTQ community into living rooms across the country.”

The 9th annual Network Responsibility Index will be released in 2015, tracking LGBT images on primetime television between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015.