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Fox, CBS agree to join effort to promote ethnic diversity

Seven months after the NAACP threatened lawsuits and boycotts over the lack of minorities on TV series, Fox and CBS became the last major broadcasters to sign commitments to make the picture more ethnically diverse.

"This has been a long, arduous process," Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday. The agreements will bring "real, meaningful, lasting change," he said.

Both Fox and CBS will add executives in charge of diversity who will implement and monitor network efforts, it was announced at separate news conferences held by the NAACP and other civil rights groups that took part in the protest.

The network agreements, much like those signed by NBC and ABC last month, focus on changes in minority representation throughout the companies _ both on-screen and off. Minority recruitment will be considered in executive job evaluations.

"We feel it's enormously important, it's very good for business, and most of all it's the right thing to do," Fox Entertainment president Doug Herzog said of his network's initiative.

Leslie Moonves, CBS Television president and chief executive officer, said the CBS agreement reflected commitments he made in November at a Los Angeles hearing on diversity held by the NAACP.

"We're not only putting it in writing, we're putting our money where our mouth is," Moonves said, citing such programs as the upcoming Latino Grammy Awards and the drama series City of Angels, with many black writers and a largely black cast.

The result, Mfume said, should be creation of television that consumers can feel good about and new opportunities in the entertainment industry for men and women of color.