Media Blog

New York Times on Television Diversity

Today’s Times has this piece headlined “No Smooth Ride on TV Networks’ Road to Diversity.“  An excerpt (emphasis mine):

LOS ANGELES — On the eve of Barack Obama’s election last fall as the first African-American president, television seemed to be leaning toward a post-racial future. In October two prominent cable networks — CNN and Comedy Central — began new programs that featured black hosts, a development that was notable because so few current programs on cable or broadcast channels have minority leads.

Five months later both programs — “Chocolate News,” featuring David Alan Grier on Comedy Central, and “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News” on CNN — have been discontinued. In addition, CW, the broadcast network that regularly features comedies with largely African-American casts, announced in February that it was renewing six popular series, but its two with mostly black performers — “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game” — were not among them. (The network says it is still deciding their fates.)

One of the few new series from last fall to feature a black lead, Fox’s situation comedy “Do Not Disturb,” was canceled after only three episodes because of low ratings. And when Jay Leno’s impending departure from “The Tonight Show” caused a shuffling among the late-night talk-show hosting chairs, the lineup remained a white male domain.

All of which raises some questions about whether television actually made any progress last fall in better reflecting the audience it serves, and whether viewers will see a return to old, monochromatic ways in the coming season.

The Times is getting rather close to calling us a “nation of cowards” for not watching shows with African-American casts, even when said shows are terrible.

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