Tech Emmys Crimped by Legal Spat


LAS VEGAS -- The show must go on. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Monday night presented the 59th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in six categories but -- because of a legal dispute with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which awards the Primetime Emmys -- it gave only "special awards" in 13 advanced media and gaming categories.

"I didn't want to end up in the clink," NATAS president and CEO Peter Price said in his welcoming remarks. "So we'll be giving special recognition to those who are under the gun in this matter."

ATAS and NATAS have been locked in a feud over the right to bestow Emmy awards in broadband-related categories. The two groups split in 1977, and under the terms of the separation neither is allowed to create new Emmy awards without the agreement of the other organization.

Last month, an arbitrator ruled that neither group may award new Emmys based on distribution platform or for non-television devices such as cell phones. ATAS subsequently demanded that NATAS cancel the Tech Emmy awards altogether.

Price on Monday said that NATAS will fight for the right to award Emmys in the advanced media and gaming categories, and would retroactively give Emmys to the winners if the organization prevailed. The dispute is currently in arbitration.

The Tech Emmys ceremony was held at the Venetian hotel, timed to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show. While the winners in the six "classic" Emmy categories -- which included Time Warner Cable, Scientific Atlanta, CNN and AT&T -- received the familiar gold-winged statuettes, the winners in the other categories received engraved crystal pillars.

Award presenters included Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.

As the 77-year-old Aldrin, who gave an award for best use of on-demand technology in a broadband PC application, paused to try to read the script on the podium in front of him, he jokingly chided the crowd: "You're great technologists and engineers, but you don't have teleprompters."

The winners of the 59th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards were: 

  • ATSC broadcast transmission system RF filters: Electronics Research Inc. (ERI); Dielectric Communications; Harris Broadcast; Micro Communications Inc. (MCI)
  • Development, productization, and commercialization of interactive video-on-demand two-way infrastructure and signaling, leading to large scale VOD implementations: Time Warner Cable; Scientific Atlanta; N2 Broadband (Tandberg Television)
  • Coaxial cable technology: AT&T
  • Pioneering development of a fully monitored fiber optic based digital network for occasional use and full time video services with fully provisioned local video access at shared use sports venues: Vyvx Services
  • Development and implementation of an integrated and portable IP-based live, edit and store-and-forward digital newsgathering system: CNN
  • Monitoring for compliance standards for ATSC & DVB transport streams: Rohde & Schwarz; Tektronix; Thomson; Pixelmetrix

The winners in the advanced media, broadband and gaming categories were: 

  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for best use of commercial advertising on standalone broadband devices (personal computers): The L Word in Second Life, Showtime Networks/Electric Sheep
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for best use for creation and distribution of interactive commercial advertising delivered through multichannel broadband devices (digital set-top boxes): Axe Boost Your E.S.P. Interactive Channel Experience, Brightline iTV/Unilever
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for synchronous enhancement of original television content for interactive use: March Madness on Demand, Sports
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for creation of nontraditional programs or platforms: MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach, MTV Networks
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for best use of personal media display and presentation technology (PSP, cell phone, personal media player, mobile devices): Bravo To Go, Bravo
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for best use of “on demand” (consumer scheduled or programmed) technology over broadband networks for active “lean-forward” viewing (PC): MLB Mosaic, Ensequence/MLB.TV
  • Outstanding achievement in advanced media technology for best use of “on demand” (consumer scheduled or programmed) technology over broadband networks for passive “lean-backward” viewing (TV): Switched Digital Video, Time Warner Cable/BigBand Networks
  • Game controller innovation: Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii
  • Handheld game device display screen innovation: Football & Auto Race, Mattel; Atari Lynx; Nintendo DS
  • User-generated content - game modification: Pinball Construction, Electronic Arts; Quake, id Software; Second Life, Linden Lab
  • Physics engines: Havok
  • Development of massively multiplayer online graphical role playing games: Neverwinter Nights, AOL-Time Warner/Stormfront/Ubisoft/TSR-Wizards of the Coast; Everquest, Sony Online Entertainment; World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment
  • Visual digital content creation tools and their impact: Autodesk Maya; Autodesk 3ds Max