Steve Mosko, recently named chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, has begun implementing plans to raise the profile and the budget of the foundation.
With the help of a newly hired executive director and a new council of Hollywood up-and-comers, Mr. Mosko said he aims to expand the awareness and usage of the nonprofit professional organization’s resources, which for many people in the industry are still little-known. Among those resources is an extensive archive comprising some 30 years worth of interviews with TV industry figures talking about the business.
Mr. Mosko, who also is president of Sony Pictures Television, plans to monetize the archive asset. One way would be to make the contents available online by subscription. In addition, the foundation sponsors the annual College Television Awards, which this year will be held March 13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. Mr. Mosko said he hopes to make a deal to license the awards to be telecast on a cable or broadcast network.
The foundation, which was established in 1959, oversees the Archive of American Television, the UCLA Archives’ Collection of Historic Television, the Academy Foundation Library and “Living Television,” a course offered through UCLA Extension. In addition to the College Television Awards, the foundation sponsors the academy’s Internship Program, Visiting Professionals Program and an annual five-day faculty seminar for 20 college professors selected through a nationwide search.
Tom Sarnoff served as chairman from 1990-2004. When Mr. Mosko came on board, Mr. Sarnoff assumed the new post of chairman emeritus.
The organization’s primary sources of revenue are from the Primetime Emmy Awards shows, grants and donations, theater rental income and contributions from ATAS, according to its financial statements.
For the year ended Dec. 31, 2003, its unrestricted revenues were $2,074,064. Total expenses were $2.34 million. Maintaining the archives is one of the most expensive of the foundation’s endeavors. In 2003 TV archives were listed as a $709,834 expense. Only theater operations, at $760,373, were listed higher (but they also bring in $414,874.)
Mr. Mosko, whose volunteer two-year term began in November, outlined his strategies in a conversation last week with TelevisionWeek News Editor Melissa Grego. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
TelevisionWeek: You started this job in November, but you already have a number of priorities. What are they?
Steve Mosko: We’re trying to keep it simple, focus on three to four things, making sure to find ways to expand our reach and ways to monetize the archive, get this new council involved in the foundation, work with [Director of Educational Programs and Services] Price [Hicks] on outreach and get the College TV Awards telecast. Finally, the next thing is finding other opportunities with the International Academy [of Television Arts & Sciences]to find international programs under the banner. We haven’t done too much on that front yet.
TVWeek: To help you do this, I understand you’ve made a new hire.
Mr. Mosko: Terri Clark. It’s a newly created position; she’s responsible for overseeing day-to-day [operation of the foundation], things like the educational services department, the archives. She’s going to be the point person in all fund-raising efforts. We’re working on a five-year plan, incorporating the things I’ve mentioned, and finding ways to generate revenues for the foundation. … I’m going to be very ambitious about how much money I think we can raise, taking things like the archives, creating new revenue opportunities.
TVWeek: Donations continue to be a part of that, right?
Mr. Mosko: We’re still looking at private donations. As with any organization like this, we will be turning over every rock in town.
TVWeek: In addition to your work as president of Sony Pictures TV, you have been very active in industry organizations, for example, having served as chairman of NATPE and on the board of governors of ATAS. What drew you to the chairmanship of the ATAS Foundation?
Mr. Mosko: One thing was the fact we’ve got this archive we can take advantage of in terms of getting it out there. We have interviews with people over the last 30-plus years talking about how they see the business. From an educational standpoint, one of the things I want to do is make a [Web-based] portal to make [the archive] available to schools and universities all over the world, potentially on a subscriber basis down the line.
So if someone at USC, for example, wants to see how the business was run in the 1970s, they can get people’s perception from back then. … If you subscribed, went online and did a search, say, on reality TV, or better yet, back before `Happy Days,’ `Laverne & Shirley,’ people said the sitcom is dead, you can go back, read interviews, hear their points of view. We do 15 to 20 interviews a year [for the archives]. They’re not as accessible as they should be, not enough people know about it.
TVWeek: So you’re just now getting into figuring out what it will take to create the portal, in terms of sponsorships, potential advertisers and subscribers?
Mr. Mosko: Yes. We’re working with [Archive of American Television executive producer] Michael Rosen, who oversees archives.
TVWeek: What else are you planning?
Mr. Mosko: We haven’t come up with a proper name, but another thing we’re doing is forming kind of a council comprised of the next generation of TV executives to really connect them and invest them in the future of the academy. One thing I learned over the years from sitting on boards is a lot of people are very accomplished and very important, but what’s missing sometimes is that energy and input from groups of individuals just coming into the business.
I’m working with [Sony Pictures TV VP of Current Programming] Deb Curtis to get them involved.
(Editor’s note: Ms. Curtis does not currently have an official title with the foundation for her work in this capacity.)
TVWeek: What sort of people are you hoping will serve on this council, in terms of level or age? In other words, what do you mean by `next generation?’
Mr. Mosko: We haven’t set an age limit or anything. But if you look at the typical age of people on a board, it will be younger than that. Deb and I will sit down in the next couple weeks. … We want to get a total cross-section of people in the industry, with a great representation of men, women and various voices in the community in terms of ethnicity-everything, a broad cross-section-so they can speak to things about the future. I think the younger executives often have some great ideas that don’t get heard sometimes.
TVWeek: What are your plans for the College TV Awards?
Mr. Mosko: We’re working closely with Price Hicks, who oversees our educational outreach programs, and one of those things is the College TV Awards, which I’m not sure a lot of people know about. It acknowledges great work at universities. The goal is looking for an outlet, broadcast or cable, to telecast these awards. …
We’ve also been doing professional outreach. There are faculty members at a lot of leading universities teaching TV courses that until working with Price have never stepped on a sound stage. The point is educating the educators. This is a really exciting area. … The educational programs will be exciting; if we can get the College Awards broadcast, it will really help our educational efforts.
TVWeek: The ATAS Foundation is involved in a lot of things: the archive projects, a UCLA course, the College Awards, the visiting professionals program. Yet it is not something most members of the industry seem to be really aware of. Why do you think it’s been so under the radar, and do you plan to raise its profile?
Mr. Mosko: Our job is going to be absolutely to raise the profile, but raise it through doing these cool things with the archives, the College TV Awards. We’re working with [PR agency] The Lippin Group to make sure people are aware of what we’re doing.
The great thing about the foundation is we’re really giving back to
the industry in general, not just the membership, the industry. Tom Sarnoff did a tremendous job for so many years, but I do think there’s a ton of opportunity going forward to give back. … I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think something great could happen with it. The idea is taking something that a lot of people don’t know about and boosting it to the next level. We have great resources to work with it.
Academy Foundation Board of Directors