MSNBC.com highlights the AP story with the headline "Gay characters disappearing from network TV." But as is often typically the case, the situation is not as dire as it seems. The first paragraph reads:
A new report says a total of seven series on the five broadcast networks feature regular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters this season, down from nine last season. The number has dropped for the past three years, according to the annual "Where We Are on TV" study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
"Studies" of this type will never produce "satisfactory" results since they would require an increase every year! In addition, with the "massive" decrease of two whole shows not featuring gay characters this season, doesn't this mean that it is likely some other "underrepresented group" thus gained representation?
"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," said GLAAD president Neil Giuliano.
Does it really? Gay Americans have an entire television cable network devoted to them, Logo. And the term "cable" is what makes this entire "the sky is falling" article unnecessary. Here is the very last paragraph of the story:
On the other hand, LGBT representation on the mainstream cable networks is skyrocketing with 57 characters this year, including 40 regular, up from a total of 35 (regular and recurring) last year.
So the news isn't quite as bad as it seems for gay Americans now, is it -- especially when considering just how cable TV has eaten away at network TV's share of the viewing public. Why would GLAAD even care much about the so-called "Big Three" networks anyway when, according to Media Life Magazine, that trio's audience share and ratings have been steadily declining -- and cable's have been steadily rising? Indeed, in 2004-2005, cable TV was virtually deadlocked with broadcast TV for audience share. The Television Bureau of Advertising indicates that the total household viewer share for all broadcast [ad-supported] networks is only a mere 4.35 points higher than all of [ad-supported] cable programming.
The AP didn't bother to report just how prodigious cable TV's share of the viewing audience really is. This fact, combined with the incredible increase in the number of gay characters on cable shows (which was noted by the AP, but not until the very end of the article) would have completely shredded the entire basis for GLAAD's "concern."