Does TV face the same diversity issue as Hollywood films?

Despite the controversy over this year's Oscar nominations, television has a long history of roles featuring people of color.

But does the small screen do a better job of showing true diversity in America?

More than 40 years ago, Norman Lear pioneered a new genre of sitcoms by casting black men in lead roles, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

"The Jeffersons" portrayed a wealthy black family and aired for 10 years on CBS.

"I learned later about the big deal as people of color came to me and talked to me about what the show meant to them," Lear said. "Russell Simmons saw George Jefferson write a check and he never forgot that. That's the moment he learned he told me that a black man could write a check."

"What Norman brought to situation comedy is this idea that it was profitable and successful for TV shows to talk about what was happening in the culture at the time," said NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

In an episode that aired in 1976, the lead characters openly exchanged slurs.

The success of Lear's programs paved the way for "The Cosby Show" and the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." But these depictions of upper middle class black families rarely included racial issues.

"America doesn't look itself in the mirror and see itself honestly," Lear said. "As a consequence, we don't have good, reliable, honest conversations about our problems."

TV pioneer Norman Lear on creating classic sitcoms

"Now, we've reached a point where all TV networks are so desperate for audience they're turning to women and they're turning to people of color who proportionally watch television more than white audiences," Deggans said.

This week, the ABC comedy, "Black-ish" broadcast an episode on police brutality.

Much of the diversity we see on television has not quite made it to the big screen.

"Women and people of color are underrepresented in television, just like they are underrepresented in film, but in film, it's much worse," Deggans said.

A study released by the University of Southern California shows a predominantly white Hollywood. The study examined the speaking characters in more than 400 movies, TV and streaming shows, finding that 71.7 percent are white, 12.2 percent are black and 5.8 percent are Latino or Hispanic.

Norman Lear is pushing boundaries again, developing a show for Netflix with an all-Latino cast. But he sees it more as reflecting society as it is.

"I didn't think we were pushing an envelope, I thought we were dealing with the problems American families were facing," Lear said.