ABC’S Emmy deal irks rivals

CBS, NBC and Fox Broadcasting Co. are expected to take some sort of action this week against the Primetime Emmy Awards as retaliation over the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ exclusive four-year broadcast deal with ABC (Daily Variety, Feb. 5).

Various scenarios were floating around on Friday, including a possible Emmy boycott and/or the three excluded webs all throwing their support behind a TV Guide awards show reportedly being developed by Fox.

Both Fox and TV Guide are part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire.

Spokespersons at the networks said no decisions had been made, but acknowledged that their officials were still steamed over the ATAS-ABC deal and contemplating some sort of response.

Rotating nets nixed

The Academy had rejected a rotating four-network bid for the Emmys in exchange for the ABC deal.

What irked the rival webs, however, is that ATAS reportedly set a $ 2.1 million asking price as the annual license fee, then turned around and accepted a higher ABC proposal without providing the other networks an adequate chance to counter that offer.

It would be difficult for the nets to effectively orchestrate any sort of Emmy boycott, since prime time shows and rights to clips are largely held by the major studios and other production companies.

At best, the webs could withhold entering their own in-house produced shows, such as CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” or NBC’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Still, industry sources note that even that sort of response would be hard to initiate. “If a performer’s going to get an award, it’s really tough to say ‘Don’t go,’ ” one producer noted.

In addition to the Emmys, ABC remains committed to air another awards show, the American Television Awards, this May.

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