LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: (L-R) Actors Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, and Ed O'Neill accept the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series award for 'Modern Family' onstage during the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)2014 Getty Images
Primetime television has made strides in achieving more diversity, including Latinos, network executives said.
But the sector must do better, they said, especially if it wants stronger ratings.
The executives spoke about the status of diversity in television on Thursday at a daylong conference hosted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition in California.
“It completely reflects the fact that if you do not reflect the face of America you will not get the ratings,” said Paul Lee, the president of ABC Entertainment Group, according to Variety, a trade publication.
“Anyone who says you cannot have a Latino lead or an African-American lead is now proven wrong. We’ve all proven that that actually drives audiences. It’s good for business as well as being the right thing to do," Lee said.
CBS Entertainment Chairwoman Nina Tassler said that training programs that groom minorities to work in all aspects of the business are a valuable step toward increasing diversity in television.
“Getting those new voices the emphasis on cultivating the new talent in the diversity programs that we have…is the way to really incubate those new voices,” she said, according to Variety.
Alex Nogales, the president of NHMC, noted that his organization’s writing training program had produced about 30 students who are working in the business now.
Some executives said, however, that greater efforts need to be made to diversity the upper rungs of the television entertainment industry.
They spoke, for example, about the importance of having Latinos and other minorities in the role of "showrunners," the term used for those in lead creator roles for television shows.
“If you are going to be creating a story that is diverse…we really feel that in order to be organic you have to have a diverse group of people creating (the project),” said Fox Broadcasting Chief Operating Officer Joe Earley.
Earley said that Fox has made a concerted effort to have diversity in various areas, including those working the cameras, the writers and directors.
“What I would love to see is when you like a program,” he told those in the audience, “when a program has either a showrunner or a writer or a talent that you believe is creating or providing a positive portrayal, that you martial your forces to ensure the success of that show.”