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The International Council: more than just Emmys.

The International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) was formed in 1969. It quickly became its own entity with a separate board of directors and its own sources of funding, independent of its parent, the New York-based NATAS. A related organization is the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), which is based in Los Angeles. Both organizations present Emmy Awards, but ATAS is responsible solely for the primetime awards, while NATAS is responsible for the daytime awards as well as news, documentary and sports awards. As part of NATAS, The International Council presents the International Emmy Awards. (See adjoining article.)

The International Council was created to expose American television executives to the importance of television as a worldwide global concept. The council's directorship is comprised of recognized authorities in television and represents more than 20 countries. Currently there are 90 directors on the board, 60 percent of them from outside the U.S. Directors include the heads of TVE (Spain); the BBC (U.K.), France Television, RTL (Germany), ZDF (Germany), NHK (Japan), Bangkok Broadcasting (Thailand), ABC (Australia) and Sveriges Television (Sweden). Directors from the U.S. included the heads of USA Networks, NBC Cable, CBS TV Network, ABC/Disney International, Warner Bros. International, King World International and MCA Television.

Tom Rogers, executive vp of NBC Inc. and president of NBC Cable and Business Development, is the president of the International Council. Kay Koplovitz, president/CEO and founder of USA Networks, is chairman of the council, and Arthur Kane is the council's executive director.

Most of the council's board meetings are held in New York, but some meetings are held outside of the U.S. Through annual salutes to foreign television and sponsorship of the coveted International Emmy and other awards, the council recognizes the highest individual contributions to the concept of international television.

In addition, on the day of the International Emmy Awards gala, the council hosts the Worldwide Television Industry Summit Conference, at which key issues facing broadcasters are debated. The Summit is covered by domestic and international press. Kane said that the idea for the Summit came from Rogers, who wanted the International Council to function more as a forum than just a support organization. "Tom wanted to expand horizons. And since the Summits take place the same day as the Emmys, we have a built-in audience with plenty of candidates to be panelists," Kane allowed. This year will mark the third Worldwide Television Industry. Summit Conference.

The council holds not only seminars but salutes. Kane said that the salutes came about when the council was being formed. "We were not only trying to expose programming to people, but the companies as well," noted Kane. The council thus arranged to bring key people to the U.S. and hold formal salutes to notable companies. Kane said that, over the years, the salutes have varied in their degrees of extravagance. "Some companies produce video presentations in addition to holding glamorous dinners at glamorous locales. Other companies hold more conservative events," Kane said. Each year a committee gets together and decides which company should be saluted; the council offers suggestions as well. The bulk of the money for the salute comes from the company being saluted; the council also makes a moderate contribution.

Kane explained that four seminars are held annually in tandem with council board meetings and that additional ones are scattered throughout the various markets. "We are always trying to encourage overseas offices to present something at these seminars," Kane said. The International Council recently published a white paper titled "Television and the Internet," which was released at MIP-TV in April. "This was the first white paper the council had ever done. It was an issue we stood by and we wanted to make a formal stance so we wouldn't be seen as just the organization that puts on the International Emmys," Kane commented.

There are also a number of educational programs run by the International Council Foundation. These include courses about international television for students and exchange trainee programs with young executives from television operations outside the U.S. One of foundation's more well-known initiatives is the launch of UNICEF's International Children's Day of Broadcasting.

Ralph Baruch, Co-founder of The International Council

Ralph Baruch is one of the co-founders of The International Council. When Baruch became head of International at CBS in the 1960s, it became apparent to him that the three networks were not very interested in foreign programming. In order to further interest in such programming, Baruch thought it would be good to begin "awarding" the best in foreign programming: The International Council was born in 1969. Although awards for best non-American programming had been presented by NATAS as early as 1963, the International Emmy Awards were introduced to do the job more fully two years after the formation of the council.

Baruch organized the first International Emmy Awards, which were held at the Plaza Hotel in New York. He sold the ads and the tables, and he also ended up emceeing the event after actor Dudley Moore balled out. "He [Moore] didn't like the way the microphone and audio sounded, so he closed the piano and walked out," Baruch recalled. Nevertheless, the event garnered some 200 people and it "took off."

Although Baruch's involvement in the council waned during the late 1970s, he recently has become active again. He chaired the committee that organized the first two Worldwide Television Summit Conferences held in 1995 and 1996.

Renato Pachetti, Chairman emeritus of The International Council

Two years after arriving in New York in 1970, RAI's Renato Pachetti met Ralph Baruch, who said that Pachetti should come join "the televisions of the world." "When I first joined the council I was the only foreigner," Pachetti explained. "From then we started to include more Europeans and it really started to become international." In the beginning, Pachetti said, only the top people from the European television companies were permitted to be on the council, and RAI was represented on the council not by him but by a top RAI director. "Eventually my involvement became more and more. At the beginning it wasn't easy to create this body. Little by little, Europeans saw the importance of being able to meet top U.S.TV people," Pachetti commented. He noted that back then cable didn't exist and there were few distributors and only three networks but that all the studios like 20th Century Fox and Paramount were part of the council. Pachetti said that RAI has been extremely interested in the council over the years because it is a forum for the U.S. Since the council's inception there have been two salutes to RAI.

Pachetti is still active in the council as chairman emeritus. Over the years, he has witnessed many changes at The International Council, some good and some bad. Pachetti is pleased with the new, more balanced judging process in which entries are judged from four different locations around the world, but he isn't too thrilled with the selection process for new board members. "The council isn't as selective as it used to be," he commented. Nevertheless, Pachetti acknowledged that the council now has a stature that it didn't have 15 years ago, and he boasted that the Edinburgh Festival and the Banff TV Festival want to work with the council.
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Title Annotation:includes related article on Ralph Baruch
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1997
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