HBO hopes Emmy perf gets cablers’ attention

HBO officials were beaming Thursday over recognition from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the pay service’s chairman & CEO, Michael Fuchs, is hoping cable operators also will take notice. Fuchs said he’s hopeful “consumers will be impressed by this” Emmy showing, but the lion’s share of attention will go toward seeking to convince cable systems to promote the service’s programming, which he called “an age-old struggle for us.”

HBO engaged in an aggressive video mailing campaign that may have contributed to alerting Academy voters to its programs. The approach was necessary, said Fuchs, to get the Academy to take a look at the service’s wares, trying to educate voters who may have looked in the past almost exclusively to the broadcast networks. “I don’t really think it’s as much (industry) politics as conditioning and habit,” Fuchs said.

The availability of video may also have paid off for PBS, which nearly doubled its nomination level from last year.

Fuchs called the quality of HBO’s nominations — including cable’s first-ever best series nominee, “The Larry Sanders Show”–“particularly gratifying.”

The show’s star and exec producer, Garry Shandling, issued a statement saying , “I’m honored, elated and grateful our show is nominated for eight awards.

“It is a big breakthrough for cable television to be so widely recognized by the Academy.”

HBO spends more than the broadcast webs on its pay movies, many of which receive theatrical release initially overseas. “Barbarians at the Gate,” for example, had a reported $ 7 million budget, about twice that of the average movie on ABC, CBS or NBC.

“We’ve been trying to say for a long time that we have some advantages,” Fuchs said.

“That’s what premium TV is.”

Still, the exec was quick to add that the bigger issue is how resources get used, saying, “Money is not necessarily quality.”

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