Partnership with Paley Center proposed

Several networks have been approached in recent weeks about mounting an alternative to the Emmys.

Sony Pictures Television prexy Steve Mosko is leading the effort, contacting network officials about potentially partnering with the Paley Center for the kudocast, according to sources.

Mosko previously served in the voluntary role as president of the TV Academy’s foundation but resigned two years ago. He declined to comment about the proposed Paley venture.

A Paley rep, meanwhile, confirmed the org is looking into producing a spesh honoring TV programs ­ — but dismissed talk that it would serve as a rival to the Emmys.

This would not be the first time that frustrated TV industry execs — and networks concerned about license fees — have proposed a competitor to the Emmys, though none of the previous efforts have taken hold as perennial TV events.

In 2001, CBS joined with the American Film Institute to create an awards showcase, but the low-rated exercise lasted on TV for only a short time.

Other made-for-TV awards of limited duration have included the American Television Awards and TV Guide Awards on ABC and Fox, respectively.

In the past, the nets have pursued the idea as a means to take back the spotlight from cablers. Especially at the start of this decade, broadcast execs had grown frustrated with the fact that they were airing an Emmycast that increasingly shined much of its spotlight on cable fare.

This time around, the issue may be as much pricetag as it is cable’s Emmy dominance (to which many execs have grown accustomed).

The four major networks are heading into the final year of an eight-year deal in which the Emmycast has rotated among them. The TV Academy was able to negotiate an advantageous fee — $52 million over the contract’s term, an average of $6.5 million annually — after HBO played the role of stalking horse by proposing a five-year, $50 million deal.

The networks have already indicated that they expect the next pact to be less generous — bad news for the TV Academy, which derives the lion’s share of its annual budget from the Emmy ceremony.

According to insiders, there has been no discussion with the TV Acad yet on renewing the contract. Several execs appear ready to let the Emmycast go to cable, should the org demand license fee increases.

Part of the problem comes from the “wheel format,” which serves as a double-edged sword for the TV Academy. Because all four nets carry the telecast, they’re all invested in the show — but only to a point.

Because it goes into different hands each year, no one network has a interest in greatly altering the show or aiming for big ratings. CBS’ attempts to give this year’s show a makeover, for example, was quickly scrapped by the Acad after it starting receiving complaints.

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this article.)

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