New Dust-Up Emerges Between NATAS and ATAS


The head of the Emmys en Espanol organizing committee has sided with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) in an increasingly nasty legal fight with the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) over a proposed Broadband Emmys ceremony.

The last salvo in an escalating war of words between the East and West Coast television academies had Raul Mateu, chairman of the organizing committee of Emmys en Espanol, and senior VP and managing director of Miami operations for the William Morris agency, issuing a blistering statement Tuesday.

“It is distressing to hear that the Academy in Los Angeles continues to thwart the recognition of not only Spanish language television, but the whole new generation of independent producers on the Internet, based upon the irresponsible assertion that such recognition ‘proliferates’ Emmy awards to the detriment of the Emmy brand,” he said.

There have been ongoing conversations between the two awards organizations about how to best handle Broadband and Spanish-language programming. But ATAS broke off the broadband talks after NATAS in early January unilaterally named MySpace to serve as the exclusive online partner for “filmmakers” to submit self-generated content for consideration.

ATAS had been seeking further Broadband Emmys discussions with NATAS to figure out how to proceed before providing awards to 12-year-olds in Iowa who are generating content on their home computers.

While declining to comment on the latest dust-up, West Coast sources deny the two events are in any way connected. ATAS filed suit last week, claiming its East Coast counterparts at NATAS, headed by President-CEO Peter Price, are seeking to launch the new broadband awards without proper approval, violating a rule created around their 1977 split that neither can start a new Emmy Award without the other's approval.

On Monday, NATAS responded that ATAS dragged its feet—first calling for arbitration and then seeking an injunction—while NATAS set up the infrastructure to hand out the Broadband Emmys.

Mateu lashed out at ATAS as a U.S. District Court judge recommended Tuesday that the case go to binding arbitration. ATAS had been seeking an injunction to stop NATAS from proceeding with plans for the Broadband Emmys. 

In his statement, Mateu implied ATAS had also delayed the Spanish-language Emmys. He urged ATAS members “to open their eyes and ears to the huge population in their own backyard and get out of their protective caves.  Yes, Spanish speakers park your cars and clear your tables, but they also run the No. 1 station in Los Angeles and also happen to run L.A. City Hall.”

ATAS and NATAS last fall formed two committees to explore broadband and Spanish-language programming. Winners in a Latin Emmy ceremony are determined by committee rather than a competition, but after two years, its leaders insist that all of the top Spanish-language shows have been tapped. A few broadband Emmys, meanwhile, have been handed out during the Daytime Emmys ceremony.

Mateu, alternating seamlessly between Spanish-language and broadband in his statement, cited a New York Times report stating the average number of channels received by an American household has increased by 63 to 104 since 1995, “while the broadband multiples that number by thousands of video streams.”

During that same frame, he said, Spanish-language TV has jumped from “just a few channels to 32."

The Hollywood Academy, he noted, has “ballooned their primetime categories from 59 in 1977 to 94 today, while annually awarding multiple statues to the same top talent and shows.” 

Further, he asserted that the “real problem is not quantity of awards but quality of recipients. While the Hollywood stars (English speakers) take more bows, the new stars representing the fastest-growing elements of television go unrecognized and unrewarded. Absolutely none of the Spanish-language stars or programs has ever won a national Emmy award competition.”

Mateu cited only NATAS for its support of Spanish-language Emmys and insisted that it should be “applauded in its efforts over the past five years to forge such recognition for the un-served but deserving talent in our television industry.”

Meanwhile, in another bicoastal battle, ATAS has agreed to shell out $350 apiece for its members to cover what NATAS says is the cost of each Emmys statue. NATAS has agreed to pay for only one trophy per category.