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What is an Emmy worth?

What is an Emmy Worth? A Loaded Multilevel Question

Could an International Emmy increase the sales of a program that received this prestigious award?

In other words, as asked by Richard Carlton, the International Council executive director: "What's an Emmy worth?"

Surely this is a loaded question, since it can be interpreted as having several intrinsically related and explosive implications.

First, it questions the program selection process. Since most programs being nominated are from the U.K., it emphasizes the language barrier, among other things. Is it possible, that over the years, only a handful of programs from non-English-speaking countries were of significance?

The second implied question is sort of a self-worth analysis. Is the International Council doing a good job for the international TV community?

Since critics were muttering about the large number of Council members who are no longer active in television, the Council has recently nominated several new, active members. But, the Council doesn't engage in any lobbying or legislative activities, nor does it seem to be involved in ongoing process of changes in the TV industry.

And thirdly, do the international award recipients really care? Comparing the U.S. Emmy with its international counterpart, the difference is striking. The U.S. process usually begins months in advance with prominent "for your Emmy consideration" ads. This is followed with a more vigorous campaign for programs that have been "nominated," culminating with "congratulatory" ads for the program winners. Nothing similar happens for the International Emmy.

One factor is said to be that non-American producers and distributors tend to downplay the marketing process. This year, the Council, had anticipated the nomination process for the first time, providing the parties with sufficient time to organize a promotion campaign, but with little or no takers.

"Yes, the International Emmy won by our First Tuesday certainly helped the sales of the program," said London Yorkshire's Susan Crawley. The reason Yorkshire Television doesn't promote the "consideration" and "nomination" process is that "Yorkshire enters its programs in many festivals, all considered equally important. We certainly mention the award in our catalogue sheets," continued Crawley.

The BBC is one believer of the Emmy's magic. "There's no question about it from any vantage point -- an Emmy award brings maximum sales, broader promotion, publicity and advertising to both the broadcaster and the buyer." Plus, Sarah Frank, CEO and president of BBC Lionheart Television in New York, is "proud as punch" of the myriad of awards the BBC has won, both in primetime and the international arenas.

In terms of dollars and cents, the Emmy gives buyers an extra perception -- for both the "before and after," added Frank. "If you already sold your product, you can go back to the buyer and say, Hey! You've made the right decision. If the buyer is still teetering about making the decision to purchase, this is the way to get them to go back and take a second look."

The simple question: "What's an Emmy worth?" could also have significant implications for the future of the International Council, especially now that the three U.S. networks have, at least for the foreseeable future, stopped sponsoring the International Emmy Dinner and awards presentation. This year, for the first time, the bill for the International Award dinner is footed by Italy's RAL.

But, what about the future? Is there another similar organization willing to invest some $200,000 on this one event? Since the dinner proceeds are used by the International Council to finance its yearly operations, the dinner's sponsor becomes a vital contributor. In the past seven years, the U.S. companies willing to hype the International Emmy has been steadily declining, leaving the potential overseas sponsor with the perception that it could have little lasting value.

"Would you be willing to sponsor the Emmy Dinner in the future?" Horst Muller of Germany's ZDF network, said. "I don't think so, our priorities for the near future are in Germany and Europe, not in the U.S." What about Brazil's Rede Globo? "Frankly, we haven't thought about it yet, but we could be looking into the possibility," said Felipe Rodriguez. Added Crawley, "RAI is larger than Yorkshire. I cannot imagine any single ITV company doing it. Yorkshire could be interested with some other ITV companies. It is not out of the question."
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Title Annotation:television industry's International Emmy award
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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