Execs: Economic Pressures Not Hampering Diversity

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The industry's commitment to diversity both in front of and behind the camera
has not waned in the wake of the sluggish economy, according to network
executives speaking Monday at the NAMIC Conference.

Despite economic pressures facing companies, networks such as Showtime
Networks Inc. are still continuing to produce ethnically diverse
programming.

Showtime -- which will begin a fifth season of its popular African-American
drama skein, Soul Food, sometime next year -- is also looking at a pilot
series from Spike Lee and an original film directed by Selma Hayek, chairman
Matt Blank said.

The network even extended its now defunct Hispanic-oriented drama,
Resurrection Blvd., an additional year despite the show's
lower-than-expected performance due to the programming diversity it offered
Showtime viewers, according to Blank.

Despite the threats of downsizing and consolidation, the panelists also said
fostering diversity within employee ranks remains a priority -- one that won't
happen overnight.

In fact, MTV Networks chairman and CEO Tom Freston estimated that it
typically takes seven to 10 years to fully implement a diverse culture top to
bottom within a company.

Further, companies serious about diversity have to look beyond employment
numbers and provide a truly inclusive culture, where everyone's voice is heard
and all are working toward making the company successful, CNBC president and CEO
Pamela Thomas-Graham said.

Also at the conference, NAMIC unveiled a new name and new logo to better
define its commitment to diversity. Now known as the National Association of
Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, the organization's new tag line is, "Embrace
diversity, embrace success," NAMIC president Jenny Alonzo
said.

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