CBS CEO Les Moonves defended the network's lack of female leads for its new fall shows during a Q&A session before the network's Upfront presentation on Wednesday.
A reporter in the room pointed out that all of the network's new fall shows feature men in the lead role, which was also the case last fall. He asked if Moonves was concerned, especially with the female-led 2 Broke Girls gone, about the gender disparity on the network, noting that women watch more TV than men.
Moonves countered that more women watch CBS percentage-wise than any other network, and said, "I don't think we've ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and [Elementary's] Lucy Liu on, and The Good Fight and The Good Wife. I think we do fine in that area."
"There are a lot of women in the new schedule," he added. "The best pilots win at the end of the day, and we think our track record is okay."
The reporter pointed out that industry trends are moving towards greater inclusion, like how FX is working to make sure half of its directors are female, and suggested that CBS might be facing in the wrong direction.
"I don't think that's the case," Moonves said. He said that when you look at the totality of CBS' television offerings, from news to daytime to sports to The CW to Showtime, CBS is doing a very good job with putting women in front of and behind the camera.
Only one of CBS' new fall shows has a female co-creator, 9JKL's Dana Klein, though most have at least one female executive producer. So while it's fair to say that CBS as a whole does okay with women, all things considered, the leadership of the flagship network could make an executive decision to develop more shows created by and starring women if they decided it was a priority.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)