Academy of TV Arts files petition against ruling

The National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences is balking at last week’s arbitration panel ruling in favor of its cross-country counterparts in Los Angeles.

In a petition NATAS filed today in New York State Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, the New York-based org accused the Los Angeles-based Academy of TV Arts & Sciences of using its victory to put a stop to the Engineering and Technology Emmy kudos.

NATAS had planned to present the Engineering and Technology Emmys at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as it has done in the past.

ATAS, however, said the arbitration ruling made it clear that neither side can hold Emmy ceremonies beyond the established Primetime Emmy Awards (thrown by ATAS) and the Daytime, News, Public Service and Sports Emmys (held by NATAS).

NATAS can continue to hand out engineering and tech awards, ATAS said, just not outside of its officially sanctioned ceremonies.

“They’ve been giving out the Emmys at CES, which is wrong,” said one insider. “But we’re not saying they can’t give out tech and engineering Emmys.”

NATAS, however, said halting the ceremony so close to next month’s convention would generate ill will among the winners and nominees, and that the org would also be hit hard by the revenue loss.

“I guess they feel they’re on a roll now,” said NATAS topper Peter Price, who said he thought ATAS wanted to halt the Tech/Engineering Emmys altogether, which ATAS denies. “I don’t understand why ATAS insists on abusing Emmy nominees and winners.”

Latest salvo comes in the wake of last week’s ruling by the American Arbitration Assn., which halted NATAS’ plans to launch a wide berth Broadband Emmy awards. ATAS had accused NATAS of attempting to establish a new Emmy infrastructure without permission.

As a result, NATAS has also been forced to back off plans to award Broadband Emmys in categories such as comedy or drama and scrap a previously announced deal with MySpace to hand out awards.

Reached last week, Price was resigned to the decision, telling Daily Variety that he would “move forward as the panel instructed us to do.”

But NATAS opted to change tactics after ATAS took issue with the CES event. NATAS also released the dissenting arbitration view of retired federal judge George Pratt, who called the ruling “wrong.”

Now, Price is also questioning what he believes was an overstepping of the panel in reinterpreting the two academies’ jurisdictions, as determined by their 1977 divorce. Price said the panel shifted the definition of each org’s oversight away from daypart (primetime for ATAS, daytime for NATAS) and instead to genre (comedy and drama for ATAS, kids and news for NATAS).

“Now we’re all confused,” Price said.

An ATAS insider, however, disagreed, and said nothing had changed from the 1977 agreement.

“We spent a lot of money in arbitration to reach the status quo,” he said.

The TV Academy rivalry dates back several decades. A recent thaw in that rocky relationship had led to talks two years ago about merging operations. Such an integration proved tougher than expected, so both sides decided instead to investigate new ways to work closely together — including a jointly administered Broadband Emmy Awards.

The orgs had been holding discussions earlier this year on how to launch such a Broadband Emmys structure when 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 kudos.

That’s when ATAS grew suspicious that NATAS was going its own way without permission and filed suit against the org. A judge threw the suit back to arbitration, which led to last week’s decision.

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