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CableAce Awards unplugged by exex

Nods end 19-year run

NEW YORK — CableAce, which has handed out prizes to cable networks for the last 19 years, won its own award here Tuesday; unfortunately the category was “the awards show that most deserves to be discontinued.”

“We just don’t need the CableAces any more,” says Matt Blank, president and CEO of the Showtime Networks. Blank was one of the “healthy majority” of cable-network executives, as he puts it, who voted to kill the national CableAces at a meeting called by the National Academy of Cable Programming at USA Network headquarters in New York to determine the fate of the awards.

In a private memo circulated among the executives of the cable networks, the academy acknowledged that, “stacked up against the Emmys and the Golden Globes, CableAce is not as significant in terms of prestige and value.” The memo also said that the actual CableAce telecast, which TNT has scheduled for the last five years, “does not garner high enough ratings to really promote cable programming.”

Another sore point that the memo addresses is the expense that the networks have to shoulder to submit nominees (about $400 a submission), edit tapes, send out cassettes to judges and pony up for the pricey tickets to the awards show.

Blank says the larger networks began to bristle at these costs, particularly since “the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Peabodys and Oscars are giving more recognition to the cable networks.”

The CableAces began 19 years ago because the Emmys were shutting out the creative people who were producing cable-network programming.

Although the national CableAces are dead, the 20th edition of the local CableAces will go on as scheduled May 5, at the National Cable TV Assn. convention in Atlanta. The NCTA will determine later this year whether to continue the local CableAces or to fold them.