By LYNN ELBER, AP
LOS ANGELES — The Emmy Awards and the four major TV networks agreed to an eight-year, $66 million deal that allows for changes in the ceremony marking its 63rd year in September.
After protracted negotiations, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‘ board of governors approved the deal Wednesday night with ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.
Reality kingpin Mark Burnett, whose credits include “Survivor,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and newcomer “The Voice,” will produce the ceremony airing Sept. 18, according to an academy-network statement.
“We are excited about the continued collaboration with our broadcast partners, and look forward to working with Fox and, for the first time, with Mark Burnett on this year’s telecast,” said John Shaffner, academy chairman and CEO.
The major broadcasters will continue airing the awards in a “wheel rotation,” with Fox kicking off the new cycle.
The academy earned a small increase in its license fee from the networks, which agreed to pay at least $8.25 million for the ceremony each year for a guaranteed $66 million over the life of the agreement.
The previous deal, which was reached in 1992 and expired this year, provided for license fees of $7.5 million per year for the past four years.
In a move aimed at boosting viewership, the agreement calls for each year’s designated network and the academy to consider reviewing the number of awards and how they’re presented.
Previous efforts to trim the show’s roster of two-dozen-plus categories to create a sleeker, more audience-friendly show have run into industry resistance from writers and others. The agreement notes that the interests of “various constituencies” will be taken into account.
That review doesn’t kick in until after the first year of the contact, which was concluded with too little time left for Fox to attempt changes.
While the Grammys and some other awards show have managed to increase their ratings in recent years, the Emmys have struggled for attention.
In 2008, the Emmy telecast hit an all-time viewership low of 12.3 million. In 2009, the show rebounded when an additional 1 million people tuned in for a total audience of 13.3 million, but last year’s ceremony rose only slightly, to 13.47 million.
Shadowing the Emmys talks were a New York-based competitor that’s been in the planning stages. The proposed Paley Center for Media honors were aiming for a 2012 launch, possibly in spring when the networks present the following season’s programs to Manhattan ad buyers.
An exploratory committee with high-profile studio, network and other industry executives was weighing options for categories and the selection process. One proposal was to give the public a voting role with an eye toward popularizing the winners.
Such an approach would appeal to the networks, which have seen their top-rated programs such as CBS’ “NCIS” and “The Mentalist” snubbed on Emmy night, while lower-rated but acclaimed cable shows including AMC’s “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” collect trophies and free promotion.
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