Glenn Geller, president of CBS, took a significant step on Wednesday in acknowledging that his network needs to do more to bolster diversity in their lead TV roles.
Speaking at Q&A at the Television Critics Association, Geller noted that the network is “definitely less diverse this year than we were last year” in terms of lead actors and actresses.
“We need to do better and we know it. That’s really it, we need to do better,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
CBS – as well as other major television networks – has been under great scrutiny for presenting a new fall schedule that lacks virtually any Latino and black actors in leading roles. Its three new high-profile comedies star all white men (Matt LeBlanc, Joel McHale and Kevin James).
The representation of Latino, black and Asian characters on major television networks has been an issue for many years.
Latino groups say Kelly Osbourne’s comments were ‘unfortunate’ but a learning experience
This Fall TV Season Has Greatest Representation of Latino Actors, Characters
Powerful TV producer Ryan Murphy vows to review diversity guidelines on his shows
Academy welcomes more diverse members – but not enough, advocates say
Hollywood leaders: Don’t blame Academy for a lack of diversity, blame studios
Historic Oscar wins cement Mexican filmmakers as Hollywood's new masters
Excluding Latinos from Oscars' diversity skits was ‘slap in the face,’ activists say
Eva Longoria says networks are 'scared' about programming Latino shows
Best pix of the week
Latina gymnast Laurie Hernandez becomes Team USA superstar
Eva Longoria: 'We didn't cross border. The border crossed us'
'Stuck in the Middle' Jenna Ortega turns into a princess
Lin-Manuel Miranda gets star on Puerto Rico's Walk of Fame
Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told Fox News Latino on Wednesday that he is sympathetic to Geller and the other networks acknowledging they have a problem, but they must take action.
“I always said to them, ‘You are victims of your own success,’” he said, adding that the networks have many successful shows that are already very white and that it’s difficult to include minority actors, especially Latinos, into the casts. “(The networks) say they are going to do better, but then they introduce three new shows and none of the leads are Latinos.”
A study by UCLA released earlier this year found that on television, white actors had 80 percent of the scripted roles broadcast during the 2013-2014 season. Blacks had 9 percent, Latinos 5 percent and Asians 4 percent.
While Geller recognized several times that the network needs to do better, he emphasized that there are 11 non-white leads that have been added for the upcoming fall season.
“Those 16 roles were added because we had to add those roles,” he said, according to Variety. “I think the fact 11 of them were cast diversely speaks to our commitment. We’re not trying to make up for something.”
Those include Wilmer Valderrama and Duane Henry, who joined the cast of “NCIS,” Adam Rodriguez and Aisha Tyler on “Criminal Minds” and Christina Vidal, who joined “Training Day.”
"I understand the inclination to look at leads," he said. "In the terms of ensemble diversity in our new shows, we are more diverse than we were last year. That's our commitment to diversity, it's ongoing."
According to Variety, Geller grew a little defensive over persistent questions regarding the network’s commitment to reflecting the multiculturalism of modern America. He was also pressed on the fact that the showrunners for all of the network’s new fall series are white men.
“Sometimes our showrunners are diverse, sometimes they’re not diverse,” he said. “We picked up the best shows from the pilots we made.”
However, he continued to reiterate that “we need to do better.”
With Geller’s statements, the network’s diversity is now under the spotlight and they really need to pick up the pace to include more Latinos and other minority actors on screen, Nogales said.
“Everyone is getting on the program and it’s now how quickly are they going to do it,” he said. “Now they have to jump on the horse and ride it a little better.”
Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.
Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang