Int’l Emmys moving beyond Europe

Effort to draw elite content from other continents paying off

There was a time when entries from Europe dominated global television competitions like the International Emmys, but no longer.

In docs, for example, European entries have won in 32 out of the past 39 years, and it has been a similar picture in other categories. But the Intl. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which runs the competish, has worked hard to increase participation from other parts of the globe. The results are being seen in the latest noms.

“There is more visibility — we do more activities and more outreach,” academy exec director Camille Bidermann-Roizen says. “The more we get the word out and the greater the buzz about the academy, the more entries there are.”

Among other initiatives, the academy has selected 15 “ambassadors” in key territories — including Ghana, Venezuela, Argentina and the UAE — to encourage local companies to participate in the awards and be the eyes and ears of the organization.

In the past five years, entries from Latin America have doubled and those from Asia, the Middle East and Africa have grown by more than 50%.

“We’ve seen significant increase in participation in the competition from companies and countries from Asia and Latin America, and this has been reflected in the geographic spread of the nominations and winners,” academy president and CEO Bruce Paisner says.

This year, although European shows took 18 noms, half came from the U.K. Latin America drew 10 mentions, Asia eight, South Africa two, Israel one.

As well as being driven by the efforts of the academy, the rising number of entries from the emerging nations is also symptomatic of the growth in production activity and the raising of professional standards around the world.

The broadcasters with the most noms this year were the BBC (six) and Brazil’s Globo (five). The BBC has for years dominated the event, but Globo’s rise is a new phenomenon. The TV biz in Brazil is growing ever stronger, like the Brazilian economy as a whole. Raphael Correa, head of Globo TV Intl., points out that Brazil’s advertising market is now the sixth largest in the world, and the country has the third-highest number of TV sets: 53.4 million. Meanwhile, the country’s TV companies have upped the number of co-productions they are involved in, and the value of their export trade is rising too.

To ensure they are fair and representative of the world’s television industries, the awards are judged by a large, global pool of judges drawn: More than 750 jurors from more than 50 countries participated this year.

Despite the wide diversity of subjects and types of programming output, there are common strands that jurors identify.

“Most countries are, in different ways, looking at themselves,” says Sven Clausen, an exec producer in drama at Danish pubcaster DR and winner of three International Emmys himself. “In the Far East, there is a huge interest in the past and the changes in their society. There is also a growing courage — all around the world — to discuss the roles that people play — the role of women and the younger generation, for example.”

Although the content of programming differs greatly from country to country, the form those shows take has become more similar, says Clausen, and the bar has been raised (in terms of professional standards and quality of programming) in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. This has been driven, in part, by Western companies — like HBO, which has three noms this year from its partnerships in Argentina and Romania — stepping up their activities in the emerging nations, but also the growing sophistication of those countries’ programming, which is increasingly being exported around the world.

But it is not just emerging nations raising their game. Bidermann-Roizen says that in 2007 the Norwegian government threw its weight behind a campaign to try to win the country’s first ever International Emmy.

“They used it as a really smart campaign to foster local creativity, including bringing creatives from all over the world to help stimulate the quality of their local production,” she says. “The Emmy is an aspirational tool.”

Cowell, Michaels honored at International Emmys

Simon Cowell
Cowell’s blunt, sugar-free criticism on “American Idol,” “The X Factor,” and “Britain’s Got Talent” is so ubiquitous and vital that many other countries’ versions of “Idol” have at least one Cowell-type judge. The Brit transplant has cultivated a brand off-camera as well; he created the “Got Talent” format and “The X Factor,” which makes its Stateside debut next year. He receives the International Emmy Founders Award for his work initiating a new generation of stars across the TV universe. Sometimes, rudeness sells.

Lorne Michaels
Michaels not only launches the careers of subversive comedic performers, he nurtures them. The creator of “Saturday Night Live,” now in its 36th season, has also produced “Late Night” with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon, “The Kids in the Hall” and vehicles for “SNL” stars Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Mike Myers (among many others). The International Emmy Directorate Award goes to this gatekeeper of wit and fresh comic voices — and that’s included unleashing the genius of John Belushi onto the world.

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