Arbitrators make first ruling in ongoing spat

Arbitrators in the ongoing spat between the two rival TV academies have made their first ruling, halting — for now — any new mediacentric awards or academies that could be in the works.

The Los Angeles-based Academy of TV Arts & Sciences had pushed for the injunction, which means neither it nor the New York-based National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences can announce anything more in the new-media realm until October.

That’s when the arbitration panel will conduct a hearing and determine which org is right in the debate over when and how to launch a bevy of new-media Emmy awards — and in whose domain they should reside.

“The Television Academy and its representatives are delighted with this initial ruling, and we are optimistic that the subsequent ruling in October will also be in our favor,” said a spokeswoman for the L.A.-based academy, which awards the Primetime Emmys.

A spokeswoman for NATAS, meanwhile, noted that the ruling doesn’t affect any of its ongoing awards– such as several broadband Emmys set to be awarded at the news and documentary kudofest in September. It also doesn’t halt the launch of its National Academy of Media Arts & Sciences, which the org announced earlier this year.

“We’re pleased with what happened today, too,” said the NATAS spokeswoman, who added that ATAS had originally asked for all new-media awards to be stopped immediately — which would have affected what the New York org was doing with the news and doc awards — before changing the wording to new Emmys “not previously announced.”

The current spat between the two acads came about earlier this year after NATAS announced plans to award up to 15 Broadband Emmys this year, and followed that up by striking a deal with MySpace to hand out the awards. ATAS then grew suspicious that NATAS was looking to launch a full-fledged Broadband Emmy show without permission.

Such a move, ATAS said, would violate the terms of a 1977 agreement that split the TV academy up in the first place. Citing the MySpace deal as the final straw, ATAS filed suit in U.S. District Court, asking for an injunction preventing NATAS from moving forward with any Broadband Emmys.

NATAS argued that ATAS had been informed of the additional Broadband Emmy categories and was well aware of the MySpace deal. The New York org also contended that the disagreement belonged in arbitration, and the judge agreed.

The fight comes just two years after both sides met to discuss a potential merger — until integrating the West Coast’s peer groups with the East Coast’s local acad chapters proved tougher than expected.

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