NATAS full steam with broadband prizes

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The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is moving forward with a quartet of broadband Emmy Awards despite its ongoing feud with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences over the new statuettes and others in the digital media arena.

New York-based NATAS announced the nominees Thursday for four new Emmys for original entertainment programming in the categories of comedy, drama, children's and variety created specifically for broadband including computers, mobile phones, PDAs and similar devices.

The broadband Emmys have been a source of contention for NATAS and Los Angeles-based ATAS, which broke off discussions in March related to the creation of new Emmys honoring digital content.

"This issue is in arbitration, but we are doing business as usual until the arbitration is concluded," a NATAS spokesperson said. "We feel that these new categories of awards are within the guidelines agreed upon in the 1970s by ATAS and NATAS."

When the academies split in 1977, they agreed not to create any new awards without mutual approval.

ATAS declined comment.

Another bone of contention concerned the participation of MySpace, which collaborated with NATAS on the creation of an online community that allowed users to submit content for Emmy consideration. Sources said ATAS was concerned that by handing out a large number of awards to amateurs making user-generated videos, the Emmy brand would be diluted.

Despite the ongoing dispute, the MySpace-sponsored community resulted in a nomination for the weekly drama series "Satacracy 88" from ItsAllInYourHands.com in the drama category.

NATAS president and CEO Peter Price said that this year there were more entries in each of the broadband program categories than any other program category, with the user-generated programs nominated representing nearly 50% of the total nominees.

"The nominees represent a cross section of broadband programs, created by both industry leaders and consumers, with the common denominator being quality -- the creativity and production values of these programs are exceptional," he said.

Also notable this year was the strong showing from the Michael Eisner-backed new-media studio Vuguru with two nominations -- the same number that Comedy Central and NBC each received.

Vuguru's scripted serial dramas "Prom Queen" and "Sam Has 7 Friends," created through the production company Big Fantastic, were both nominated in the drama category. Comedy Central's "Baxter and McGuire" and "Honesty" were both nominated in the comedy category. NBC's "Pale Force" and "The Office: Accountants" also were named in that category, while Showtime's "Dexter Blood Splatter 101" and "The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments" from Eepybird were among the variety category nominees.

PBS' "Cyberchase" and Cartoon Network's "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" were among the nominees in the children's programming category.

The awards will be handed out June 14 at the Daytime Creative Arts & Entertainment Emmy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Ballroom.

A complete list of nominations can be found on the NATAS Web site at www.emmyonline.tv.
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