Broadcast nets ante up for Emmys


The four major broadcast networks Wednesday night agreed to pay the
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences $52 million over eight years to carry
the Primetime Emmy Awards, after almost losing the show to Home Box Office's rival $50 million,
five-year offer.

After the broadcast networks -- and CBS in particular -- threatened to boycott the
show if it went to cable, the Academy accepted the networks' bumped-up offer,
with ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC agreeing to pay ATAS a $5.5 million annual license
fee for the first four years and $7.5 million annually for the next four.

The show will remain in its "wheel" format, with the show rotating among the
four networks. Next year, Fox is scheduled to air the awards gala.

For months, ATAS has been trying to get a higher license fee out of the
networks, arguing that the awards show brings a hefty margin that makes it worth
far more than what the networks were paying.

The networks budged only a little, offering to raise the license fee to $3.3
million annually from $3 million. It wasn't until HBO stepped in with a much
bigger offer that the networks realized they really were in danger of losing the
show to cable.

In recent years, the Emmys have earned anywhere from $15 million to $30
million in revenue, depending on the advertising market and other factors. With
production costs of $5 million to $6 and another $1 million to $2 million in
marketing costs, Academy executives felt that the profit potential made it obvious
that license fees for the show should go up.

Besides granting ATAS higher license fees, the networks also ceded more
creative control to the Academy, allowing it more input and approval over the
show, said Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment and vice
chairman of ATAS' executive committee.