PaleylogoThe Paley Center for Media’s long-rumored plans to mount a rival to the Emmy Awards have moved one step closer to reality.

The org announced Wednesday that Sony Pictures TV prexy Steve Mosko (who’s been leading the charge to create a counter to the much-maligned Emmycast) will co-chair a “Paley Center for Media Television Awards” planning committee, along with Fox Networks Group CEO Tony Vinciquerra and Lippin Group chairman/CEO Dick Lippin.

These are guys who know a thing or two about the TV Academy — but are no longer involved with that organization. In other words, there’s quite a bit of backstory attached to their motivations here.

Mosko once headed up the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Foundation, while the Lippin Group handled all of the TV Academy’s press — including the Emmy Awards — for more than a decade. But Lippin and ATAS parted ways in December.

Timing is everything, and in this case, the move to launch a rival awards show comes he 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.

Now, as we wrote in December, several networks have already been approached about their interest in mounting an alternative to the Emmys via the Paley Center.

The-emmy-awardAnd it’s obviously very interesting that the head of a broadcast network, Fox’s Vinciquerra, is helping lead the rival Paley Center charge. Fox is one of the networks that currently runs the Emmy Awards every fourth year. It’s unclear whether Vinciquerra’s involvement means that Fox would have the advantage in securing the Paley Center kudofest, once it becomes reality.

According to sources, the Paley Center and the award organizers hope to launch a show as soon as May 2011, tied to the upfronts — and beating the Emmys to the punch in honoring that year’s shows.

Here’s more on the new Paley effort, via their press release:

“The formation of this planning committee is to explore the opportunities that we believe exist to create an awards program or franchise of programs,” Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of The Paley Center for Media,” stated. “We are very fortunate that a portion of Mr. William S. Paley’s funding of our institution envisioned awards as a way to recognize excellence and innovation in programming and to celebrate the best in the media business. We are also fortunate to have among our Trustees and serving on the Board of Governors in Los Angeles, the top executives from broadcast, cable, advertising and digital media companies, and with their enthusiastic support, we are in an excellent position to create a new and exciting awards program.”

“The committee will be comprised of a diverse group of highly experienced industry professionals that have been involved in virtually all of the areas associated with developing and producing television awards programming,” Mr. Mosko stated. “We will look closely at what is in the best interests of our industry and the public and make our committee members an integral part of our discussion and planning.”

Mr. Vinciquerra added, “The economics of television and our industry have changed radically in the last few years. So too have the tastes of the television viewing audience. Our goal will be to marry the benefits that can accrue to our business by showcasing its content in the best ways possible while making our awards programming highly entertaining and appealing television.”