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Daytime Emmys Report Reveals Judging Irregularities and Nomination Challenges (EXCLUSIVE)

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has released a “transparency report” for the recently concluded 46th Daytime Emmys, revealing five separate judging irregularities and four nomination challenges — and how they handled each dispute.

According to NATAS, this reps the first transparency report to be published by the org — or any similar major awards entity, to the best of its knowledge. The report comes a year after a Daytime Emmys awards debacle rocked the organization and led to a threatened boycott by TV’s major daytime soap operas.

NATAS president and CEO Adam Sharp first joined the org last year in the midst of that scandal, which came after Patrika Darbo’s 2018 win in the digital daytime drama guest star category was revoked over a submission snafu. NATAS then found errors in a back-up winner’s submission, and opted not to award anyone in the category.

Sharp commissioned an independent investigation into its voting process, and promised to institute changes suggested by the findings, and as a follow-up agreed to this year’s transparency report.

According to the study, 2,514 total entries were submitted into this year’s Daytime Emmys contest, ultimately translating to 467 nominees across all categories, and ultimately one winner in each of 95 categories (plus six honorees in the outstanding individual achievement in animation category, which may award multiple winners in various fields).

Among judges, 1,243 people were approved to vote, while 77 people who volunteered to be judges did not meet NATAS’ requirements — either they didn’t reach the threshold for industry credits and experience, or they had conflicts with the categories that they otherwise would have been an appropriate judge. According to Sharp, every potential judge is approved both by NATAS and by the Los Angeles-based Television Academy.

Accounting firm Lutz & Carr kept tabs on questions of integrity in any category, and informed NATAS’ national awards committee of irregularities without revealing the identities of relevant judges or affected entries. Here’s what they found:

• In one category, a judge gave a perfect score to one entrant and a score of zero to all other entrants. Their ballot was disqualified, which led to a change in the category’s fifth nominee — but didn’t impact the ultimate winner.

• In one category, a judge gave perfect scores to all entrants from one specific network, and lowest possible scores to all other entrants. The accountants found “an affiliation existed between the judge and the network.” Their ballot was disqualified. Also in this case, that led to a change in the category’s fifth nominee — but didn’t impact the ultimate winner.

• In one category, a judge gave a perfect score to one entrant and “extremely low scores” to all other entrants. An affiliation between judge and entrant couldn’t be determined, but the ballot was tossed out of caution. Once again, that led to a change in the category’s fifth nominee — but didn’t impact the ultimate winner.

• In one category, two of eight judges gave perfect scores to entrants from a single network, and minimum scores to all other entrants. The accountants found a shared affiliation between the judges and the network, and their ballots were eliminated. That led to three of the nominations changing, but it did not affect the ultimate award winner.

• And in one unusual case, the administration team was approached with an allegation that a judge was taking login info from others and conducting judging on their behalf. Lutz & Carr investigated internet protocol address logs, but did not find any evidence that this claim was true. The judges’ votes were allowed to remain.

Nomination challenges included the digital drama series “Love Daily,” which received a pre-nomination for outstanding digital drama series but then disqualified when NATAS administrators learned that the show’s submission was a re-edited version made for new distributor Hulu instead of the original version streamed on now-defunct Go90.

Also in that digital drama series category, another pre-nominated series was called into question because it was no longer available, but the Daytime Emmy rules only require that it be available during the eligibility period (in this case, calendar year 2018), so the show’s eligibility was re-affirmed.

In another case, an individual withdrew their nomination after they learned that their series had been entered this year in the Primetime Emmy Awards. (Both television academies forbid double dipping.)

A challenge in the special class special category was examined but the program’s eligibility reaffirmed, while three nominees in the daytime promotional announcement—topical category were challenged by another nominee. Two of those challenges were denied, while in the third case, a nominee was removed after an investigation found that the promo in question was actually for a primetime airing of the program.

According to the report, NATAS plans to focus on expanding its judging pool for the 2019-2020 awards cycle.

Specifically, the org noted that during the Blue Ribbon voting round, several categories included more than 50 entries to be reviewed. “This year, through staffing and schedule adjustments, the Administration Team intends to identify earlier in the entry period which categories require a second round of judging,” the report said.

“This will alleviate the demand on judges’ time by reducing the number of categories containing a burdensome amount of material requiring viewing,” the report added.

Also, NATAS’ administration team is working with Yangaroo, the tech firm handling submission and judging platforms, to investigate issues such as compatibility on non-Chrome browsers and on tablets and mobile devices. The company is also looking to improve the ability to track progress through the entire judging period, allowing NATAS to determine whether it needs to recruit more judges.

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