NATAS keeps tech Emmy date

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The Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards went on as planned Monday night at the Consumer Electronics Show, though pending litigation almost forced the show's cancellation.

The tech Emmys are awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which is embroiled in a legal feud with the Hollywood-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

NATAS president Peter Price opened the show at the Venetian by saying he was "surprised" that his West Coast colleagues had taken issue with the advanced media technology and video game Emmys that were to be handed out. An arbitration panel found in favor of ATAS last month and ruled that NATAS could only hand out awards for broadband content for genres that fall under its jurisdiction.

Price questioned the definition of "genres" in the suit, and the New York-based NATAS appealed the ruling last month. The case is now before a judge in New York, with a ruling expected in the next couple of months.

Price said that he and NATAS could face legal repercussions if they were to hand out the disputed Emmys. He said NATAS decided to hand out the undisputed Emmys for technology that have long been recognized by ATAS and simply honor those in dispute with a glass statue.

"I am confident that this will be resolved," Price said. "Your Emmy is in the mail."

Of the 19 categories, only six were recognized with Emmys, and those honorees were announced before the ceremony.

Seven of the 13 remaining categories fell under "advanced media technology," which recognizes purely online content, virtual worlds and on-demand content. These were the only awards that weren't previously announced.

The six others were video game-based categories that honored such older games and companies as Atari and Mattel's hand-held games from the 1970s, as well as newer offerings.

Shelly Palmer, chairman of NATAS' advanced media committee, also spoke in favor of the advanced media honorees and nominees and had them stand up, drawing applause from the crowd.

"This has been a challenging couple months," Palmer said. "Each one of you is a consummate professional."

Michael Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, summed up the tone of the evening as he accepted the disputed award for "World of Warcraft" toward the end of the ceremony.

"I had no idea you could get an Emmy for creating a computer game," Morhaime said of his first thought upon hearing that he had been honored. "It turns out that I may have been right."

The loudest applause was saved for Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who presented an award at the show. He received a standing ovation as he walked toward the stage.

From the traditional categories, Time Warner took home two awards. One went to Time Warner Cable for VOD development and another went to CNN for IP-based digital newsgathering.

TWC also was recognized with Big Band Networks in a disputed category for its Switched Digital Video: Revolutionizing TV, which won the advanced media award for best use of on-demand technology for "lean-backward" viewing. The 1990s massively multiplayer online game "Neverwinter Nights," which ran on AOL — now owned by Time Warner — also was honored.

CBS was honored twice for advanced media. Its Showtime Networks and the Electric Sheep Co. was awarded for "The L Word in Second Life," and CBS Sports' "March Madness on Demand" also was recognized.

In other advanced media categories, MTV Networks was honored for creation of a nontraditional platform for its Virtual Laguna Beach, and NBC Universal's Bravo mobile offering won for best use of personal media display and presentation technology.

Nintendo was the biggest winner in the video game categories, taking home two awards for its DS system and one for its Wii.

"World of Warcraft," from Vivendi-owned Blizzard, also was honored in the MMO category, as was Sony Online Entertainment's "Everquest."
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