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Study: Number of Gay Characters on TV Shrinking

Nine gay characters are depicted in network-TV series scheduled for the 2006-07 season, a decrease from last year's 10, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Monday.

Out of 679 series lead or supporting characters on the six major broadcast networks in the new season, roughly 1.3 percent are gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the group's annual study. The figure last year was 1.4 percent.

GLAAD analyzed the 95 prime-time comedies and dramas announced by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW and MyNetworkTV.

While the year-to-year numbers are relatively consistent, the prominence of the roles has been diminished, GLAAD found, with the exit of shows like "Will & Grace," "Out of Practice" and "Crumbs."

The nine gay or lesbian characters appear on eight different series.

New series GLAAD counted as "inclusive" include comedies "Help Me Help You" (ABC) and "The Class" (CBS), and dramas "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC), weeknight telenovela "Fashion House" (MyNetworkTV), and CW midseason entry "Hidden Palms." These join returning comedies "Desperate Housewives" (ABC) and "The Office" (NBC), as well as the drama "ER" (NBC).

The five series with recurring gay, lesbian or bisexual characters include the new comedies "Ugly Betty" and midseason arrival "Big Day" (both ABC). These join returning comedies "The Simpsons" and "The War at Home" (both Fox), and the drama "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC), the study found.

"It's clear that the broadcast networks have a long way to go before they accurately reflect the diversity of their audience and our society," said GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano.