ATAS Claims Victory Over NATAS on Broadband Emmys

An arbitration ruling in the skirmish between the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Hollywood counterpart the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences came down Tuesday, and ATAS is calling the ruling a victory.

NATAS administers the Daytime and News and Documentary Emmy Awards, while ATAS hands out the red-carpet staple Primetime Emmy Awards.

The two organizations have been engaged in a long feud over Emmys for content made expressly for broadband and other new media.

The ruling prevents NATAS from awarding any new-media Emmys in a separate broadband category, which it did in September at the 28th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. Content made expressly for broadband may continue to be submitted for consideration in established categories, as ATAS has argued.

“This is a resounding victory for our Television Academy and duly establishes that NATAS' misguided actions were clearly inappropriate," ATAS president Dick Askin said in a statement. "The ruling is a confirmation that NATAS was in violation of our existing agreement and must cease and desist on any future violations of any unauthorized usage of the prestigious Emmy Award and brand without our approval."

NATAS president Peter Price expressed disappointment but accepted the ruling’s finality.

“We felt that it was new and different and the character of it was so different that it should be separately recognized within its own category,” Price said. “While I would have liked to have had them say, ‘Your separate broadband awards are an enlightened way to go,’ at least they clarified things. We’ll abide by the arbitrators ruling and rejigger our program to make it accommodating in the same way ATAS does.”

Both entities may consider broadband programming for existing categories that fall under their purviews: drama, comedy, variety, reality and children’s programming for ATAS and news, documentary and sports programming for NATAS.

Neither entity, however, may award Emmys for content made expressly for non-television devices including cell phones and iPods. The ruling also put the kibosh on NATAS’ partnership with MySpace, which allowed users to submit videos for award consideration.

The arbitration board also ruled that a Latin Emmy ceremony can go forward if both sides can agree to the structure of such a tribute. In 2006, NATAS went ahead with such a ceremony without ATAS participating, calling it the Leaders of Spanish Language Television Awards.

Both sides were optimistic that a Latin Emmy ceremony can become a reality perhaps by 2008.

“We have to get together and plan it and put our heads together and go forward, which I hope is what we’re going to do,” Price said.