BAFTA Opens Up TV Awards to Netflix

House of Cards Poster - P 2013

The British Academy rule changes mean "House of Cards" will enter the running for a nomination slot; the organization also broadens other TV categories.

LONDON -- The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has torn up the rule book for its British Academy Television Awards and the British Academy Television Craft Awards to make web-based broadcasters eligible to enter for the first time.

The changes, which throw open the door to web-based operators making original programming such as Netflix and its House of Cards remake starring Kevin Spacey, are in place for the 2014 awards.

While the BAFTA net has widened, only web-based broadcasters who commission content will be allowed to apply.

Programs that are self-commissioned and published are not eligible for the television awards.

BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry said the organization was moving with the times opening up the U.K.'s most prestigious TV awards to web players.

"We continually strive to ensure our Awards remain relevant to the industry, as well as reflecting the trends among the viewing public," Berry said. "We’re in a golden era for storytelling and program-making, with top-class shows being broadcast online as well as on digital and terrestrial television; the latest update to our rules ensures we celebrate and reward the very best."

The eligibility change is one of several changes made to the Television and Television Craft awards this year, ahead of he nods being dished out in 2014.

Other changes include the expansion of the previous comedy category to become the comedy and comedy entertainment aiming to bring in programs whose comedy is central to the editorial of the program, including panel-led shows, chat shows where comic content plays a significant part, stand-up comedy shows and comedy clips shows.

Also updated is BAFTA's entertainment program category to include content such as quizzes and game shows, talent shows, music specials, and all general entertainment programs.

The situation comedy category remains unchanged.

BAFTA television committee chairman Andrew Newman said: "As a genre, comedy entertainment has grown rapidly over the past few years and the new expansion of this category recognizes this, allowing for a wider range of programs to be considered by the academy and ensuring a more lively competition."

Entries for all categories opens Oct. 1 and closes Dec. 3.  

The British Academy Television craft awards will be held April 27 while the British Academy Television Awards will take place May 18.