LOS ANGELES -- The East and West Coast television academies that control the Emmy Awards are putting aside their longtime rivalry and crafting a new alliance, top academy executives said Thursday.
"This is such a monumental step, hopefully erasing 30 years of antagonism," said Dick Askin, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, organizer of the prime-time Emmys.
He was joined in a phone news conference by Dennis Swanson, chairman of the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the branch that administers news, sports and daytime programming Emmys.
The new cooperation will "simplify the process of rewarding excellence in television," Swanson said.
The two academies - and the rancor between them - dates back to a 1977 agreement that resulted in a so-called "divorce" and the establishment of separate groups and leadership.
Swanson and Askin, both relatively new to their posts, said they began negotiating to improve relations a few months ago.
Among other things, they will work together on areas including Web sites and marketing to enhance the academy brand, Swanson said, although the academies have yet to develop a framework for implementing the changes.
It was unclear how the reconciliation will affect a recent bitter clash between the two academies regarding establishment of Latin Emmys.
NATAS filed for arbitration in December 2002, claiming ATAS was refusing to cooperate in establishing Emmys for Spanish-language programs and had interfered with NATAS' attempt to initiate a ceremony.
ATAS had questioned the need or feasibility of Latin Emmys, noting that Spanish-language programming already was eligible for the international Emmys given each fall. Academy rules preclude programs competing for more than one Emmy.
"It's premature to suggest what the final outcome will be," Swanson said Thursday.
Askin reiterated ATAS' position that Latin Emmys were not a priority because Spanish-language programs are honored by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Under the new alignment, the international academy will become a division of ATAS rather than NATAS. The groups said it was a logical move because ATAS and the international academy both handle prime-time programming Emmys.
The possibility of combining all Emmys under one unified organization was not a topic of discussion, the academy executives said. They now cooperate on the daytime Emmys.
"I'm not sure the two organizations should be under one roof," Askin said. "We're both now really well-defined in our areas."
The prime-time Emmys are scheduled for Sept. 19 in Los Angeles and will be broadcast by ABC.
On the Net:
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Web site: http://www.emmys.tv/
National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Web site: http://www.emmyonline.org