TV Academy branches make amends

ATAS, NATAS begin discussions over new-media nods

The two-year-long legal battle between the two branches of the TV Academy is finally over.

The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has dropped all appeals against the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In a joint statement, ATAS and NATAS said they were planning to "start discussions over areas of mutual interest."

The main bone of contention between the two branches has been awards for broadband content.

The protracted legal battle, which has cost millions of dollars to both parties, began in early 2007 when ATAS brass filed a lawsuit looking to stop NATAS from developing new awards on its own.

Despite that, NATAS proceeded with creating and awarding Emmys for online programs in June 2007, including for drama, comedy, variety and children's programming, areas under ATAS' jurisdiction.

But ATAS eventually won an arbitration -- which was later upheld by the New York Supreme Court -- that each organization can hand out broadband Emmys in only the genres for which it already oversees awards.

NATAS had been appealing that ruling, but the appeal has now being dropped, and the rival academies "have agreed that broadband content should be judged as television within existing primetime and daytime television awards ceremonies, rather than as a stand-alone platform," the joint statement said.

Last year, ATAS also won arbitration in another dispute, over the creation of a Spanish-language Emmy ceremony, with a ruling that telenovelas outside the U.S. without an American partner would not be eligible for consideration. NATAS' appeal of that ruling also has been dropped.

The truce between the two sides comes on the heels of the departure at the end of last year of NATAS president and CEO Peter Price, who led the organization's aggressive turf war.

The academies had been at a stalemate, with NATAS pushing for a meeting before they drop the appeals and ATAS insisting on NATAS withdrawing its appeals before they sit together.

In the end, "everything happened simultaneously -- they dropped the appeal, and we agreed to form a joint committee," an ATAS source said.

NATAS also has agreed to pay all of ATAS' attorney fees as awarded by the arbitrations. Each side will cover its legal fees for the appeals.