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Webs, Fox to rotate Emmy Award b’casts

Saying “common sense has prevailed,” Academy of Television Arts & Sciences president Richard Frank confirmed a new deal Tuesday to rotate the Primetime Emmy Awards among the three networks and Fox Broadcasting.

But other than good will, the immediate effect of the amended arrangement will be negligible.

ABC, which had three years remaining on an exclusive four-year agreement with the Academy, will still broadcast the awards show next September and, through the random spin of a four-network wheel, in 1996. Fox will air the show in 1995, with CBS and NBC to get their turn in ’97 and ’98, respectively.

In short, ABC still will televise the show three out of four years, but at least the rival webs can accept the notion that the Emmys are no longer strictly an ABC showcase but an all-industry event.

At a press conference, ABC Ent. prexy Ted Harbert said the networks spend 364 days “beating up on each other” and thus can afford one day a year “to unite and celebrate” the best of television.

ABC’s mediocre ratings performance with last year’s Emmycast wasn’t a factor in the net’s decision to open up the show to all the webs, Harbert added.

ABC had agreed to pay roughly $ 2.7 million a year as its license fee for the show. Sources say the new terms represent a slight decline, to about $ 2.5 million per annum, but the Academy nevertheless makes out better than the $ 2.1 million offered originally under a four-network deal.

Frank wouldn’t discuss the terms but said the Academy, a non-profit organization, will have the financing it needs to carry on its activities. With all the networks participating, he noted, the Academy hopes the Emmys will have greater exposure and be able to fulfill its mandate, focusing people “on the positives of television.”

In addition to Harbert, the press conference was attended by NBC West Coast chief Don Ohlmeyer, Fox Entertainment Group prexy Sandy Grushow and Steve Warner , CBS VP, program planning and scheduling.

Execs from those nets boycotted last year’s Emmy ceremony in protest of the exclusive ABC deal.

In a rather amusing finale to the whole brouhaha, at Tuesday’s press conference the wheel actually had to be spun several times before it would land on CBS or NBC.

Next fall’s 46th annual Primetime Emmy Awards has been scheduled for Sept. 11 , a week earlier than last year. ATAS and ABC officials said the shift was due to the availability of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, from where they have originated the past 16 years.

Don Mischer, who produced last year’s Emmy show, is again expected to exec produce the telecast for ABC. Nominations will be announced July 21, with programs airing between June 1, 1993, and May 31 eligible. The first entry deadline for programs aired by April 5 is Monday; May 11 cutoff for programs airing after that.

Nominating ballots will be sent to ATAS members starting June 8 and have to be returned by June 24. Judging panels will be held Aug. 13-14.

The Emmys rotated among the Big Three networks from 1963-86, then aired for the next six years on Fox before the ABC deal.

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