WGA Rule Change Opens Door for Netflix to Compete for Awards

Netflix's "House of Cards"

The guild also announces a new category, the Quiz & Audience Participation Award.

The Writers Guild of America is opening up its rules for awards eligibility so that shows produced for new media, such as Netflix’s offerings, can be considered for the 2014 Writers Guild Awards.

Under the WGA’s previously existing rules, those shows would not have been eligible to compete against similar programs produced for TV. The new guidelines will permit online series to compete with TV series in the script and series categories.

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The WGA West and WGA East also announced on Monday the creation of a new category, Quiz & Audience Participation, that will cover writers who write questions and answers, as well as other material (quizzes, stunts, host copy). Scripts submitted for awards consideration in the new category must be written under a WGA collective bargaining agreement.

In explaining opening up its major categories to shows produced for new media, WGAW president Christopher Keyser and WGAE president Michael Winship issued a statement saying, “Whether you’re watching content on a TV screen, online on a laptop or with a hand-held device, outstanding writing and great storytelling deserve the same recognition. These changes in eligibility and submission guidelines reflect the evolution of distribution models in the entertainment industry. We are also looking forward to giving out the new Quiz & Audience Participation Award in 2014.”

The rules change reflects a similar decision by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which has allowed shows from new online outlets like Netflix to compete for Emmy Awards.

Opening up the awards to new media also affects several daytime serials, which had been broadcast on network television, but which have moved to new-media platforms. Since they are continuations of programs previously produced for television, the old rules would have placed them in the separate Derivative New Media award category. The new awards guidelines will allow online daytime serials to compete in the Daytime Drama category along with serials that continue to be produced for television.

The Original and Adapted New Media categories remain intact but will be limited to programs 15 minutes or less in length and will be referred to as “Short Form New Media -- Original” and “Short Form New Media -- Adapted.” The “adapted” category is open to new-media programs based on any source material, whether a TV series, motion picture or written work.

All programs over 15 minutes in length will compete in existing TV categories (overall series, episodic drama, episodic comedy, etc.), which have been expanded to encompass made-for-new-media programming.

All daytime serials will compete in the Daytime Drama category, which has also been broadened to include made-for new media programming.

Submissions are now open for 2014 Writers Guild Awards in the following categories: Theatrical Screenplays (Original and Adapted); Series categories: Comedy, Drama, and New Series; Script categories: Animation, Children’s Episodic, Comedy/Variety, Daytime, Documentary, Episodic Comedy, Episodic Drama, Long Form, On-Air Promotion, News, Quiz & Audience Participation, Radio, and Short Form New Media.