NATAS Fires Back at ATAS in Broadband Emmy Dispute

Mar 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The New York-based National Academy of Arts & Sciences said the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences waited too long to be entitled to any form of “expedited relief” that could result from a temporary injunction preventing NATAS from expanding the Emmy Awards it gives out to broadband content.

ATAS petitioned for a temporary injunction Thursday in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division, aiming to prevent the NATAS from awarding Emmys for digital content, particularly in a new partnership with MySpace.

Under a 1977 agreement, NATAS administers only the Daytime, Sports and News and Documentary Emmys.

NATAS’s reply, filed Monday in the same court, also argues that a federal court is not the appropriate venue in which to argue the case since ATAS had already requested binding arbitration when it sought the injunction last week.

The two orgs are also at odds over the NATAS 2006 policy change of giving out only one free Emmy to a winning team and requiring the others who contributed to the award to pay $350 to have their own Emmy to take home. ATAS had assured its members that it will cover the cost of any Emmy purchases.

A ruling on the injunction by the federal judge hearing the case in California is said to be likely by mid-week.

“ATAS fails to inform this court that it first learned in November 2005, almost 17 months ago,” said NATAS in its filing opposing the injunction. “That NATAS planned to present several ‘new media’ Emmy Awards.”

In addition to chipping away at the arguments in last week’s ATAS petition, NATAS argues that the prohibition against either organization starting a new Emmy competition without approval of the other side, per the settlement agreement struck in 1977 when the Emmy organization split acrimoniously in two in 1977, “does not provide ATAS with a blanket veto.”

In a companion filing, NATAS also objected to statements made in the ATA filing by ATAS COO Allen [sic] Perris

Alan Perris was named to the post in May 2006 and thus had not been in place to make several declarations of personal, firsthand knowledge.

“We expected the opposition,” Dixon Dern, the entertainment lawyer who is general counsel for ATAS, told TelevisionWeek Monday. “The opposition is contentious, and we disagree with it.”