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Fairness in the Media Facts

National Rainbow Coalition
Oakland, California

The following facts about fairness in the entertainment industry (April 10, 1996) accompany an article by Rev. Jesse Jackson about the Oscars and fairness in the media and Hollywood:

Television is Pervasive and Exerts a Profound Influence in Our Society

  • 98% of American households own at least one television. The average American household spends 6 hours and 50 minutes each da;y watching television.

  • By the time a child is 18, he or she has watched 18,000 hours of television, listened to 22,000 hours of radio versus spending 11,000 hours at school and 3,000 hours of religious instruction.

  • Television must change if we are to live harmoniously in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural society.

People of Color are Under-Represented

  • The Screen Actors Guild commissioned a study by George Gerbner of the Anneberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. The study reviewed 19,645 speaking parts in 1,371 television shows that were broadcast between 1981 and 1992. PeopIe of Color were only 13% of the characters in prime-time television and only 5% of those portrayed in chiIdren's programming. People of Color are 30% of the population in the United States and the majority in the world.

  • In theatrical films produced in 1992 out of 9,283 roles, whites were 78%; African Americans were 14%; Latinos were 4%; Asian/Pacific Americans were 3%; and American Indians were 1%.

  • According to the National Council of La Raza, the number of Latinos in prime-time television has dropped from 3% in 1955 to 1% in the 1992-3 season. Latinos are 10% of the U.S. population (over 25 million Latinos in the U.S.).

  • In the 1994-95 season there were only six Latino actors and actresses in lead or supporting roles on prime-time television. There was not single show with a Hispanic theme.

  • There are only two American Indians on prime-time television and they are onl;y in supporting roles.

  • In televlsion advertisements, 84% of the on-canera jobs are held by whites and 84% of the voice over jobs go to whites.

People of Color are Reduced to Sterotypes and One-Dimensional Roles

  • The Center for Media and Public Affairs analyzed 620 television shows that appeared on prime time television behween 1955 and 1987. The study showed that whites were 94% of the business executives and professionals portrayed on television. African Americans were 5% and Latinos were 1% of business executives and professionals on television.

  • African Americans appear on the news as criminals twice as often as other groups.

  • African Americans are 14.2% of news delivers on television; 7.8% of newsmakers and 4% of those cited as authorities.

  • Latinos are only 1.5% of news makers on television.

  • Asian/Pacific Americans are 2.3% of news delivers and 4% of those cited as authorities

There are Gaping Employment Disparities for People of Color
in the Entertainment Industries

  • The Writers Guild of America West released a report in June 1993 that surveyed television and film industry hiring practices between 1987 and 1991.

  • Minority writers received a 2.6% of features film writing jobs and 3.9% of television writing jobs. The writing jobs in television were mostly for African American-oriented situation comedies. There were no minority writers for any serialized drama in the '90 to '91 to television season.

  • Employment of minority writers at major film studios ranges from zero at MGM, to one at Paramount, to eleven at Disney.

  • Thc median income of white male writers was $60,963 in 1991. For women, the median income was $45,955 and for minorities it was $48,061.

  • The Directors Guild of America has 10,097 members: 3% African American, 1.8% Latino, .9% Asian, and .2% American Indian. The DGA study of the hours at work in 1992 and 1993 showed that minority directors received only 4% of the work in each year, down from 5% in 1983.

  • Hiring as 2nd Assistant Director and Unit Production Managers for minorities is also low. Minority Assistant Directors got 10% of the work in 1993, down from 17% in 1983, and minority Unit Production Managers received 2% of the jobs.

  • In the field of print journalism, people of color are 10% of all journalists even though the minority population in the U.S. is close to 30%.

  • Only 2% of the estimated 5,000 newsroom managers of the 1,525 daily newspapers, are people of color.

  • The number of African Amercan male broadcast executives actually decreased from 2.9% in 1989 to 2.8% in 1993. African Americans in broadcast management is only 5.5%.

People of Color Lack Ownership in the Telecommunications Industry

  • Only one-half of one percent of the 98,000 firms in the telecommunications busiess are minority-owned.

  • There are only 300 minority-controlled broadcast radio and television stations out of 10,000 stations in the U.S.

  • There are only 9 minority-controlled cable television operations out of 7,500 cable operators in the U.S.

  • There is a serious need to address issues such as access to capital, minority partnerships, and business development in order to redress the exclusion of people of color from participating in the telecommunications field.

Published in In Motion Magazine April 10, 1996.