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Study: Net Diversity Efforts Mixed

The bad news is that for every two actual Latinos viewers see in real life, they only see one on prime-time network broadcasts. The good news is that this is an improvement.

The bad news is that almost half of Middle Eastern characters (46%) were criminals. That compared to 15% percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and Latinos, 10% of African Americans  and five percent of whites. The good news...well, there didn't seem to be any on that front.

Those were some of the conclusions of a study, Fall Colors 2003-2004: Prime Time Diversity Report, released Wednesday by activist organization, Children Now.

The study found that while there were more Latino characters--6% in 2003-2203 vs. 4% the year before--they were often in low-paying jobs compared to other groups. No network was found to be appreciably more diverse than another.

As in previous studies--this is the fourth year--the so-called family hour, when kids are likely to be in the audience, was the least diverse in prime time, according to the study.

While praising the networks for their progress, the group said broadcasters were still sending the wrong message. "The message prime-time TV sends to kids about the world in which they live is that some racial groups are privileged," said Patti Miller of Children Now, "while others are under-represented or even invisible."

The study also found that Asian and Pacific Islander characters declined, Latino and Middle Easterners were frequently typecast, and Native Americans were entirely absent.

All the networks have pledged to take steps to increase representation of minorities both in front of and behind the camera.

The study looked at two episodes of each prime time entertainment series on the six networks, not including midseason series.