ATAS chief looks to Emmy challenges

Re-elected John Shaffner faces negotiations over telecast

John Shaffner went through a run-off election to keep his post as chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Now, he faces one of the toughest mandates for a head of the TV academy in recent history.

The Primetime Emmy Awards are in their final year under the current deal with the Big Four broadcast networks.

The license fee for the Emmys is a key source of financing for the TV academy and its programs, but with broadcast ratings downtrending, convincing the networks to shell out a large sum for the Emmys may prove a tough sell.

"This is a challenge; it's a puzzle, but it's not impossible," Shaffner said. "I believe the TV business wouldn't be the same without a big wonderful Emmy program every year."

And while the academy is open to any ideas about new distribution partners for the Emmys, "we're looking forward to work with our traditional broadcast partners," he said.

As for the ceremony itself, for now there are no plans to repeat last year's failed attempt to pull some categories from the live broadcast.

"The goal is to build on the success of last year," Shaffner said, noting that the academy is looking to keep several elements, including the "generelization" of the telecast, where award categories are grouped by genre. Additionally, "we are really going to focus on the year-in-review packages; they are an opportunity for the audience to come together."

The TV academy also plans to improve the logistics at the Nokia Theatre LA Live now that the surrounding buildings have been completed. Accommodations at the Nokia, which entered a 10-year deal as the home for the Emmys under Shaffner, have been a source for complaints for attendees for the past two years but that will change this summer, Shaffner said.
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