When TV viewers turn to one of the Hallmark networks, they know what they're going to get: family-friendly, fun, sweet and positive films. It's also safe to assume what the romantic leads of these movies will look like: white.

That's a good bet, according to the numbers. By the end of 2017, Hallmark will have premiered a combined 86 new movies on two of its networks, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries — the highest total ever. Only six of those movies had non-white romantic leads.

Hallmark debuted three films with Catherine Bell ("Good Witch: Spellbound," "Home for Christmas Day" and "Christmas in the Air"), who is half Iranian; one movie with Julie Gonzalo ("Falling for Vermont"), who's from Argentina; and two movies with Alexa PenaVega ("Destination Wedding"), one of which also starred her husband Carlos PenaVega ("Enchanted Christmas"), both of whom are Hispanic.

When it comes to African American and Asian romantic leads in 2017 Hallmark movies, the number is zero.  catherine julie alexa carlos hallmark 2017 Catherine Bell as Lydia in "Christmas in the Air", Julie Gonzalo as Angela in "Falling for Vermont" and Alexa and Carlos PenaVega as Laura and Ricardo, respectively, in "Enchanted Christmas." Photo: Kailey Schwerman/Fred Hayes/Crown Media

International Business Times spoke about the diversity issue with William (Bill) Abbott, the president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of the Hallmark networks.

"I feel like this is an industry-wide problem," Abbott told IBT. "Others have made a little more progress than we have made, granted, but, at the same time, certainly we, as a brand and as an organization, we have a great track record of doing the right thing and I think that you will see significant change over the years as we continue to evolve our content."

The "others" that have made a little more progress isn't just the overall entertainment industry, but also competitive networks like Lifetime and Ion. Lifetime premiered eight movies this season (two of which were network debuts of older movies) and two of them had a diverse lead, which is 25 percent. Over on Ion, there were only five new premieres, but one of them featured non-white leads, which is 20 percent. Hallmark Channel, which is in the midst of its Countdown to Christmas programming event, will have aired 21 new Christmas movies by its conclusion, with only one, the PenaVegas' "Enchanted Christmas," with diverse leads.

"I think if you look back over the last five or six years, we were in a position that we realized that we needed to do something about it," Abbott said of the channel's lack of diverse holiday films, "and the project that we have Alexa and Carlos in is one of the ways we did that."

Aside from onscreen leads, Abbott mentioned that the company's also looking to improve its diversity behind the scenes "in terms of some of the writing that we have, some of the writers and directors that we commission," like Melissa de la Cruz, he mentioned, a Filipina-American young adult author, who wrote the book and script for Hallmark's "Christmas in Angel Falls," which aired as part of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas event this year.

In front of the camera, though, the Movies & Mysteries' network aired 14 movies as part of the event, with only one having a diverse lead, which was Bell's "Christmas in the Air." Her other 2017 Christmas movie, "Home for Christmas Day," premiered in July.

The Hallmark channel's lack of diversity is no secret: criticism of the casting abounds on social media.

lori danica candace hallmark 2017 Hallmark aired new movies in 2017 with actresses who are part of its family of talent, including Lori Loughlin in "Garage Sale Mystery: A Case of Murder," Danica McKellar in "Coming Home for Christmas" and Candace Cameron Bure in "Switched for Christmas." Photo: Ryan Plummer/Jeremy Lee/ Crown Media

"I'd love to know how many of the 33 [new Christmas movies] starred a PoC," tweeted Korean-American young adult author Jenny Han earlier this month. "PoC like Christmas movies too, guys."

There's also a popular comment on the Hallmark Channel Facebook page from 2013 that still comes high up on the Google search results and continues to draw comments.

"Love the hallmark channel but they have got to do better with ethnic diversity," Latasha Morrison‎ wrote. "No main or leading characters are ethnically diverse. You would not think it's 2013 watching the channel. Love the holiday movies but incorporate the beautiful rainbow of colors God created in His people. I love what the network stands for what better opportunity to begin to breakdown barriers that remain on TV."

Abbott himself sees progress. 

"I think that we put a plan in place that we certainly want to be more diverse and holidays this past year began that process," he said.

"This is one of our major initiatives and major focuses," Abbott said. "I don't want to put a number to it, but we are always looking to make the world a better place and this is a key part of it. It's top of mind and we're certainly focused on it."

But there's no plan to enforce a radical change. "It's a process and it's not an overnight type of fix where you just go out and you change your casting and who you're working with overnight," he said.

The CEO explained that a casting overhaul can't be done instantaneously, or even over a year, because the company already has a family of talent it works with, like actresses Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar and Lori Loughlin, whom audiences like and are used to.

So Hallmark is choosing to add to the family, as with Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, who have a mystery series in development, and Holly Robinson Peete, who has a few projects in the works, instead of completely revamping it.

alexa carlos hallmark 2017 Alexa and Carlos PenaVega starred in "Enchanted Christmas," the only Hallmark Channel 2017 Christmas movie with any non-white leads. Photo: Fred Hayes/Crown Media

"I think if we look at it that way in terms of trying to be intentionally casting Asians or African Americans in lead roles like that, then I think if that's going to be our goal, our only goal, our sole goal just so we can talk to the press or communicate that back to our viewers, then I think we're doing our viewers a disservice," Abbott said. "I don't think that's what they really want. I think they want a very organic, very natural strategy that we've developed for 2018."

Another issue, according to Abbott, is that most Hallmark films are made in Canada and for tax purposes, must include a certain percentage of Canadian actors. Still, there are non-white actors in Canada, too.

"I think overall we look at diversity inclusion on a broader scale and it's something that we definitely need to do a better job on, admittedly," Abbott said, "but I think that we've taken those steps in 2018."

Peete's "Midnight Show Murders" film with Rick Fox airs in January on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and the PenaVegas are working on their future Hallmark projects. The company is currently only in development on projects up to Valentine's Day 2018 — so there is no word yet on what the casts of Christmas 2018 movies will look like.