If the CableAce Awards go out of business — a possibility currently under serious discussion — it will not be due to any unilateral pullout by HBO or any of cable’s other major players, according to sources.
It’s been speculated that HBO is preparing to withdraw from the competition that honors cable programming excellence and annually bestows a significant portion of its statuettes on the Time Warner pay cabler. However, indications now are that HBO will stay the course and remain in the CableAce competition as long as it exists, as will Showtime, TNT, Lifetime, ESPN and other top networks.
HBO, Showtime and Turner Broadcasting declined to comment Monday concerning the CableAce situation.
However, a board meeting of the National Academy of Cable Programming (NACP) is being organized — likely sometime later in March — to decide the fate of an awards program that many believe has fallen into utter irrelevance.
“There is simply no viable reason for the CableAces to stick around, and a lot of reasons for them to go,” one cable executive said.
“Originally, their mandate was to bring attention to cable programs that would otherwise go unrecognized. But with cable now all over the Emmys, that’s no longer true. It’s a dinosaur from a bygone era. And HBO’s yearly dominance is a little bit ridiculous.”
Others cite the cost (to both cable networks and to the NACP) of putting on the CableAces, which annually lose money. The only compelling argument for keeping the competition going is that it brings recognition to smaller cable services that never will have the budgets to compete at an Emmy level.
“That’s why HBO probably wouldn’t drop out on its own,” one cable industry source with ties to the CableAces said. “It doesn’t want to be seen as uncaring about the little guy for whom these awards are still kind of a big deal.”