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TV acad explores reality peer group

Proposal would split non-fiction group into two branches

Bowing to the shifting TV landscape, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is seeking to amend its bylaws to create a new reality-TV peer group.

The proposal, which would require approval from the board of governors, would split the existing non-fiction peer group into two branches: Reality TV, representing those who work in that field; and what would be renamed ”non-fiction documentary programming.” The academy currently consists of 28 peer groups, representing everything from animators and art directors to title design and writers.

An academy spokesman confirmed the matter is on the agenda for the next board meeting on May 24. In a letter to governors obtained by Variety, membership committee chairman Dan Birman outlined ”compelling reasons” for the change, citing the growth of reality TV and the genre being ”different in nature from the craftwork done for scripted and for nonfiction/documentary programming.” Given past criticism about the academy failing to adapt to keep pace with a fast-evolving industry, he also noted the initiative ”brings the academy current with established industry trends.” Portions of the academy have historically resisted such changes, and some remain skeptical of how prominently reality programs should be featured within the Emmys, whose stated goal is to recognize excellence. Nevertheless, it has been difficult for the organization to ignore the fact reality shows generally account for most of the highest-rated series on television. In accompanying data, the mailing notes an unscripted show ranks first among adults 18-49 five nights of the week, including ”The Voice” and two editions of ”American Idol.” If ratified, the proposal would introduce a pair of reality-TV governors to the board and allocate an additional $10,000 to the org”s budget for the additional peer group.

Including two reps from each branch and the 13-member executive committee — consisting of elected officers and appointees by the chairman ” the board would now total 71. The existing bylaws cap the number at 70.

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