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TV Academy Incumbent Shaffner Prevails in Run-Off Election

Academy of Television Arts & Sciences incumbent John Shaffner prevailed in a run-off election Jan. 6 to secure a second two-year term as chairman of the creative organization that hands out the primetime Emmy Awards.

Shaffner, who drew criticism last year for a controversial time-shifting proposal, faced a challenge from second vice chairman Brian Seth Hurst.

Shaffner admitted that the time-shifting proposal was clumsily handled

"Our timing last year throughout the process was dreadful, to say the least," he said.

But he added that this year's Emmy telecast will keep some of the innovations introduced last year, including expanding the major category ballots to six nominees from five.

The time-shifting proposal would have excluded the presentation of several awards from the live telecast in order to streamline what can often become a bloated television event. But Hollywood unions mounted vociferous protests forcing the Academy to back away from the proposal.

However, Shaffner contends that last year's program provided a new template for the 51-year-old broadcast.

"I think we really reinvented the show in a couple or remarkable ways," he said, citing the genre clip packages that ran throughout the program.

"The year-in-review clips were an incredible opportunity for the audience to catch up." This year, he added, "We're going to work on making those clip [packages] sharper and better."

But there is at least one aspect of last year's Emmy telecast that will not be given a repeat performance: having six presenters onstage simultaneously to introduce the nominees in the major acting categories.

Based purely on ratings, last year's Emmy telecast could be counted as a success. It drew 13.47 million viewers to rebound from previous lows even as it faced stiff competition from the NFL on NBC.

Shaffner credits some of that rejuvenation to the inclusiveness created by expanding the field to six nominees. And while the top show awards have lately gone to series that draw comparatively modest audiences - AMC's Mad Men, NBC's 30 Rock - the winners nevertheless reflect the changing television landscape, he said.

"We're very much reflective of where the audience is today. We may never agree with the popular vote or we may not always agree with the critic's vote. Ultimately our goal is to look for excellence. And it does become a big sharing moment."