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NAACP Considers TV Network Boycott

November 4, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Claiming there is an ongoing ``whitewash″ at the four major TV networks, the president of the NAACP on Wednesday announced plans for a viewer boycott that would single out the worst offender.

Kweisi Mfume condemned ``the dearth of blacks and other minorities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes″ and pledged ``to begin the new century with old-fashioned activism.″

The nationwide boycott would hit one network _ ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox _ from New Year’s Day through the February ratings sweeps, a period when audience numbers are used to set advertising rates.

``Nothing short of a real and measurable effort by the networks will prevent us from going forward,″ Mfume said Wednesday.

He said his organization on Monday would present the four networks with ``verifiable goals and timetables″ for enhancing equal opportunity and promoting diversity.

It plans to hold a public hearing on segregation in the TV industry in Los Angeles Nov. 29, and NAACP leaders would make a decision about the boycott sometime afterward.

Mfume focused on the paucity of black actors on the networks’ slate of new fall series during the NAACP’s annual meeting in July, and the networks set about announcing new black and other minority characters.

A study released in September by TN Media found that, of the six broadcast networks, only NBC and Fox had a lower percentage of blacks as regular characters in prime-time than in the U.S. population, where blacks represent about 13 percent.

Complaints about on-camera talent ``was our opening salvo,″ Mfume said Wednesday. ``Our issue is much deeper than that.″

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