On the heels of the recent announcement that the Daytime Emmy awards will be revived on national TV this spring comes word that a meeting will be held in New York among the three networks and other parties interested in reviving the Sports Emmys, which have been in limbo since the 1982-83 awards.
The last sports Emmy awards period was for programs between July, 1983, and July, 1984. But the usual awards ceremonies due last fall fell apart when NBC Sports, complaining of the method for choosing winners, boycotted the awards and CBS in turn expressed certain reservations.
Jim Spence, senior vice president of ABC Sports, confirmed that "there's the possibility" that the overdue 1983-84 awards could be bypassed entirely because of the delay if planning goes ahead for the current awards period, from July, 1984, through July, 1985 (ABC, of course, is interested in a revival in time for the 1984-85 awards for the understandable reason that its August, 1984, coverage of the Summer Olympics stands to win a good many Emmys).
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), based in New York, has had jurisdiction over the Daytime, Sports and News Emmys since Hollywood members of NATAS split several years ago to form the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), with the latter taking jurisdiction of the lucrative prime-time Emmys, a staple of network TV.
In last week's deal for revival of the Daytime Emmys, NATAS and ATAS agreed to split the TV rights fee for the upcoming awards, with ATAS staging the production out of Hollywood and NATAS sponsoring the awards dinner itself. CBS is scheduled to air the first telecast sometime this spring, and it is expected that the annual Daytime Emmy awards show will be rotated among the three networks in future years.
Spence denied a rumor that ABC had separately approached the West Coast academy about reviving the Sports Emmys under its aegis--perhaps with the same kind of TV rights split--pointing out that the East Coast academy still would have to approve any switch in jurisdiction for the awards.
"New York approached us," Spence said, "and the networks have agreed to meet with NATAS. Bob Wussler will chair the meeting." Wussler, now an executive of Turner Broadcasting System, is a former president of CBS Sports.
The basic issue is the voting system, which in recent years has been in the hands of representatives of the three network sports departments, plus representatives of the independent producers.
That was a compromise over previous voting methods in which either outside journalists or members of the academy voted on the sports winners. But the latest method still raises questions of integrity, and there have been calls for public disclosure of how each network sports department voted.
Spence thinks the current method only "needs to be refined. We must restore respectability to the Sports Emmys. It's important to our production people that they receive recognition, but a lot of our production people are very dissatisfied with the system of past years."
Spence also said he'd like to see the Sports Emmys awards dinner televised.