Mary of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" still calls her boss "Mr. Grant," even though the men in the program call him "Lou". And on "All in the Family," Edith Bunker "scoots into the kitchen to fetch Archie a beer and rarely fails to have dinner on the table by 6 p.m."
Of the nine blacks portrayed in 1973 episodes of "Hawaii Five-O," a popular detective show, five were pimps, two were prostitutes and two were students. The 11 Hawaiians and Polynesians in the show that year included two pimps, two assassins, one "mobster kingpin," one "enforcer for Lolo," and one "front man for Lolo's illegal activities." Lolo was the Hawaiian mobster kingpin.
These are among the complaints cited in a study released yesterday by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which charged the television industry with perpetuating racial and sexual stereotypes in programming and news and accused the Federal Communications Commission of doing nothing about it.
The highly critical 181-page report, entitled "Window Dressing: Women and Minorities in Television," said the FCC "has been less than fully effective" in enforcing equal opportunity laws in the industry. It asked the FCC to begin a public dialogue on the role of women and minorities in television and asked Congress to give the FCC authority to regulate employment practices at the networks.
But Richard E. Wiley, chairman of the FCC, said in response to the report: "It seems difficult to conceive of how a federal agency would deal with stereotyping without becoming inevitably drawn into the role of a censor."
A statement from the American Broadcasting Corp. said: "We have grave reservations about the commission's suggestion of injuecting the government into questions of program and news content - which would appear to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution."
The report studied employment practices at 40 stations, television programs broadcast between 1969 and 1974, and news shows broadcast from March, 1974, to February, 1975.
"The television world presents a social structure in which males are very much in control of their lives and are in a position to control the lives of others," the report said. It found that men were older, more serious, more independent and more likely to hold prestigious jobs. Women, on the other hand, were younger, often unemployed, more "family bound," and often found in comic roles. Those women who were employed, the report said, "were in stereotyped and sometimes subservient occupations."
The report also said that the "infallible lawyer, the authoritative police chief, the invincible detective, along with countless subordinates, uphold the law and maintain order on television."
Of the 5,624 major and minor characters studies in television drama, 65.3 per cent were white males, compared with 23.8 per cent who were white females, .6 per cent nonwhite males and 2.3 per cent nonwhite females. In addition, 57 per cent of white women and 53.4 per cent of nonwhite women could not be identified as having occupations, compared with 31 per cent of white males and 40 per cent of nonwhite males.
The report said the FCC's stance has been to let the industry regulate itself, an undertaking it called a "failure."
"There are a variety of regulatory alternatives that go beyond the FCC's current approach to program regulation," it said.
Because the FCC has fallen short in policing local stations to ensure equal opportunity hiring, the report said, women and minorities have been put in highly visible positions" on the air," but "without comparable representation in decision-making positions." Thus, those who are on the air "serve merely as window dressing."
The report also said that an FCC form theat describes the employment status of women and minorities has been "misrepresented" by licensees who "imply erroneously" that they move into decision-making jobs. In fact, their job titles and salaries "suggest that they perform primarily clerical and routine administrative tasks," it said.
To study women and minorities on network news, the report randomly looked at five broadcasts of each of the three networks. Of 230 stories broadcast, the report found nine concerned with minorities and three with women. Of the 141 "newsmakers" on these broadcasts, 78.7 per cent were white males, 9.9 per cent white females, 7.8 per cent nonwhite males and 3.5 per cent nonwhite females.