A&E Fails, Fox And ABC Family Score High Marks, On GLAAD’s Network Report Card

GLAAD released its ninth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) this week, examining how major television networks represented LGBT characters and story lines in the past year.

Top marks went to ABC Family, home to inclusive shows like The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars, and to Fox, the first major broadcast network to receive an “Excellent” rating. It’s particular noteworthy considering the channel received a failing grade in GLAAD’s inaugural report card, back in 2006.

pretty little liars
Pretty Little Liars/ABC Family

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said Fox’s growth, “highlights real change across the media landscape.”

On the lower side of the scale, A&E and the History Channel both received failing grades, the latter having essentially no LGBT representations to grade.

The NRI looks back on programming that aired between June 2014 and May 2015 on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the CW, as well as 10 major cable networks including FX, HBO, MTV, Showtime, TLC and ABC Family.

Jussie Smollett and Eka Darville in Emprie

Overall grades of “Excellent,” “Good,” “Adequate,” or “Failing” were awarded based on the quality and relative quantity of LGBT representations in each network’s original programming.

Noteworthy findings included:

· With shows like Empire, Brooklyn 99 and Glee, Fox featured the highest percentage of LGBT-inclusive original programming hours, coming in at 45.4%, the highest percentage GLAAD has tracked on a broadcast network since the NRI’s inception. Additionally, the network also had the second-most racially diverse representations on broadcast, with 36% of its LGBT impressions made by people of color.

flash Andrew Mientus andy

· The CW, home to Flash, Arrow and America’s Next Top Model, led in racial diversity of its LGBT characters—with 38% of impressions being made by people of color and had the second-highest percentage of inclusive programming hours, with 44.8% of its original programming hours including LGBT people. The CW also had the highest percentage of LGBT impressions; however, GLAAD deemed many of the impressions to be “minor” rather than “major.”


· How to Get Away With Murder helped ABC produce the highest volume of LGBT-inclusive content, with 258.5 hours or 32% of its original programming. Only 17% of the network’s LGBT impressions were made by people of color, the lowest of any broadcast network.

· ABC Family posted the highest-ever percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming for any network tracked in the NRI previously. Not only did 74% of its original programming include LGBT impressions, but 79% of those were lesbian characters, 49% were people of color, and the network also featured a transgender character played by a transgender actor.

This will be the final edition of the Network Responsibility Index, as GLAAD will turn its focus toward encouraging diverse LGBT representations on TV through its annual “Where We Are On TV” Report.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.