Emmy Academies NATAS & ATAS bury differences, agree to work together

MUMBAI: They are two premier television bodies in the US, but they have been working with daggers drawn. Now the feud between the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is coming to an end. The Board of Governors of ATAS and the Board of Trustees of the NATAS have approved an historic alliance driven by a mutual desire to work more closely together in the future.

he announcement was made on 22 January 2003 jointly by ATAS CEO and chairman Dick Askin and Natas chairman and CEO Dennis Swanson.

A press release issued by ATAS calls the agreement "a milestone" as the two have had a strained association for nearly 30 years as a result of the Settlement Agreement which was entered into on 30 June 1977, in an effort to resolve differences between the groups. 

ATAS CEO and chairman Dick Askin

"It took almost three decades to come to an understanding that we have much in common that can and should allow us to work as allies, not adversaries," says Askin. "The television industry is a dynamic one and both our organizations play vital roles. I am very thankful that Dennis and I share a strong desire to move forward in a way that will benefit both our organizations and our members."

"I share Dicks vision for the future of our two academies," Swanson said. "Its been our hope to find a way to end a long pattern of friction. With this new spirit of cooperation we will find constructive ways to further our common goal which is recognizing excellence in television."

Natas chairman & CEO Dennis Swanson

Both ATAS and NATAS agreed the 1977 Settlement Agreement was inconsistent with the responsibilities of both organizations and todays television environment. As a result, the changes put into effect are meant to reconfigure the structure of ATAS and NATAS in ways which are designed to play to their respective strengths.

Under terms of the agreement, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (IATAS) will become a division of ATAS, rather than NATAS. The change reflects the fact that both IATAS and ATAS are involved in honoring those who have demonstrated the highest level of excellence in prime time television programming.

The agreement also calls for a transfer of the Los Angeles Chapter of ATAS to NATAS, subject to final ratification by the L.A. Chapter. The L.A. Chapter would have all the rights and benefits of NATAS membership, including the right to serve on the NATAS Board. L.A. Chapter members could also retain membership as Associate Members of ATAS. Previously, the L.A. Chapter was the only Chapter in the United States not part of NATAS.

The agreement also calls for the end of all litigation relating to existing arbitration. ATAS and NATAS are currently defining revenue sharing benefits, which would benefit both organizations through ongoing and new initiatives.

"This alliance represents a new beginning in the relationship between ATAS and NATAS and is an important first step in significantly improving our ability to work effectively together in the future," said Askin. "This agreement will allow us to extend the ATAS brand on a global basis, end existing arbitration and open the door to greater revenue opportunities."

"NATAS trustees will come together in early June for our annual meeting to take place this year in Los Angeles," Swanson said. "During this time we look forward to representatives from IATAS and ATAS joining us in an historic occasion to celebrate and further discuss the opportunities this agreement has created."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, An immediate fallout of the agreement looks likely to be the quashing of plans for a primetime Latin Emmy Awards. This is because the shift of IATAS from the umbrella of East Coast-based NATAS to West Coast-based ATAS end the sparring between the two on how best to honor Hispanic programming.

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