Arbitration puts broadband issue aside for now

The latest battle in the 30-year war between TV’s rival academies has been settled, but it’s still unclear whether peace will reign.

“The Academy ought to be one, and if it can’t be for whatever East/West reasons that exist, they ought to collaborate closely,” says National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences topper Peter Price. “It makes no sense for there to be any standoff.”

Price’s New York-based org administers the Daytime Emmys as well as the News, Public Service and Sports Emmys plus local chapters across the country; the Los Angeles-based Academy of TV Arts & Sciences oversees the Primetime kudos.

In February, a New York judge upheld an earlier American Arbitration Assn. ruling in favor of ATAS, which had accused NATAS of trying to launch a broadband Emmy kudo without proper approval.

Under terms of their 1977 divorce, neither side can launch a new Emmy award without the other’s permission. But that appeared to be exactly what NATAS was trying to do with the broadband awards.

Both sides had been talking about ways to collaborate in creating both a broadband and Spanish-language Emmy infrastructure. Yet when NATAS announced plans on its own to award up to 15 broadband Emmys in 2007, as well as a deal with MySpace to give out the awards, ATAS grew suspicious and filed suit.

The suit was eventually sent to arbitration, which found in favor of ATAS. NATAS balked, filing its petition with the New York State Supreme Court in December, asking that it be set aside, but a judge upheld the arbitration.

“We are gratified that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is unanimously victorious in a very fair and accurate arbitration, and that we can continue our vision to preserve the Emmy brand,” ATAS said in a statement.

As a result, NATAS backed off its ambitious broadband Emmy plans — but ATAS and NATAS can nonetheless still award broadband Emmys in the categories in which they have jurisdiction, and only within pre-existing Emmy ceremonies.

In NATAS’ case, that means Daytime Emmy Awards in broadband can still be handed out.

“We’ve been living by the arbitration result and will continue to abide by it,” Price says.

Next up, the two sides must still iron out a Spanish-language Emmy proposal, and a sticking point remains: NATAS would like to include programs produced outside of the U.S., which makes up the bulk of programming on the Spanish-language nets. ATAS says those shows are already covered by the Intl. TV Academy.

With a stalemate in the works, it appears likely that both sides will be heading back to arbitration. Peace in our times? Not quite yet.

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