ATAS approves reality peer group

Move recognizes genre's growing importance to biz

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences board has approved the formation of a reality-TV peer group, recognizing the genre’s growing presence in the TV landscape.

The decision – made as expected at Thursday’s governors meeting (Variety, May 18) – expands the number of peer groups to 29, with two governors from each branch. An additional 13 elected and appointed officials also serve on the board.

Although some within the academy questioned the move – which renames the nonfiction peer group, which previously encompassed reality, as the documentary branch – the organization said in a statement the changes “reflect the growth and strength of reality programming and the producing and craft communities associated with the genre, while also differentiating the work of documentary style programming.”

In an earlier letter to the board, membership committee chairman Dan Birman noted reality shows account for many of the top-rated series on TV and amending the structure “brings the academy current with established industry trends.” It’s unclear whether the shift will facilitate the addition of new members, or result in any future tinkering with the academy’s presentation of the Emmy Awards.

The revision marks one of the first significant initiatives since the election of Warner Bros. TV Group head Bruce Rosenblum as the acad’s chairman in November.

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