Women and minorities are underrepresented in the television industry and misrepresented on television programs, the U.S. Conference on Civil Right said yesterday.
Its report, "Window Dressing on the Set: an Update," follows one last year that accused the TV industry of pandering to racism and sexism.
The earlier report was based on a 1969-74 survey of employment prac tices at 40 stations in major markets and a review of prime-time news and entertainment broadcasts in that period.
The new 1975-77 survey found that little had changed.
Black situation comedies and "jiggly" shows -- those like "Charlie's Angels" featuring well-endowed women -- abound, the report said. Though such programs are not the only ones in which women and minorities appear, they "nevertheless represent recent and important trends in the portrayal of members of these groups on network television drama during prime time," according to the report.
"These trends indicate that the portrayal of minorities and women has not improved since 1969-74," the report said, and in some ways, particularly for minority males, things have gotten worse.
"This is most vividly seen in the increase of minority male characters in comic roles among the general decline in the number of characters seen in such roles," said the report.
"While whites are often shown in ridiculous roles on TV, they are also seen in a wide variety of other programs and roles; but, with few exceptions, blacks appear only in situation comedies," the report said. "The high percentage of comic roles lends support to the claim that minorities... are not depicted as seriously as whites."
The report noted that programs like the "Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and "Roots," both of which presented insights into the black struggle for equality in the United States, were "critical and ratings successes." But it suggested that such quality programs about minorities or women occur infrequently because commercial sponsors shy from them.
On hiring, the report said the networks have made "significant" advances in using minority males in news programs, but have fallen behind in hiring women as news correspondents. "The proportion of minority female correspondents... declined significantly," the report said.
"Minority males continue to be underrepresented as correspondents," the report said. White males continue to constitute the "great majority" of all network news correspondent, 82.2 percent.
Spokesmen for CBS, NBC and ABC all declined comment on the report until they have had a chance to read it.