LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Plans to create a Latin Emmy Awards has provoked a bitter legal battle between the East and West Coast television groups that work together to put on the current Emmy shows.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York filed for arbitration Thursday, claiming the Los Angeles-based academy is refusing to cooperate in establishing Emmys honoring Spanish-language programs.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences denied the allegation, calling the move by its New York counterpart a ``charade'' and ``self-serving.''
Creating any new Emmy format requires the approval of both groups.
Talks between the academies have dragged on since the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences approved a Latin Emmys last June, the New York group's president, Peter Price, said Thursday.
``Regrettably, ATAS has not only refused to commit to the project, it has used stalling tactics to obstruct the National Television Academy's efforts to move forward with its plans to stage the Latin Emmys next year,'' the New York group said in a statement.
The demand for arbitration was filed with the American Arbitration Association in New York, and NATAS retained prominent attorney David Boies, who represented the federal government in the Microsoft antitrust case.
Price called the action an effort to move the issue forward.
``We simply can't get a 'yes' or 'no' or even 'maybe,''' he said. ``We get, 'We're looking at it.'''
Los Angeles academy officials said the move took them by surprise, adding they have been working closing with the New York group, as well as Hispanic community, industry and political leaders.
``It's clearly a charade, if you will, really disingenuous, and not representative of the facts of the situation,'' said ATAS President Todd Leavitt.
On the day the New York group announced its action, Leavitt said, Los Angeles academy officials were meeting with members of the Hispanic congressional caucus to talk about the Emmys and the broader issue of Hispanic employment in Hollywood.
Leavitt said creating a Latin Emmys would require resolution of a number of issues, including the fact Spanish-language programming is already eligible for the international Emmys given each fall. Academy rules preclude programs competing for more than one Emmy.
Another issue, he said, is that much of Spanish-language programming is produced overseas, while Emmys are intended to recognize U.S. excellence in production.
Alex Nogales, who heads the National Hispanic Media Coalition and has met with the Los Angeles group, expressed cynicism about the awards proposal. He suggested it has more to do with making money than honoring Hispanic achievement.
If the awards are established, Nogales said, there is also strong opposition to calling them Latin Emmys because they would not honor Hispanic performers, writers and technicians working in English-language television.
``Emmys en Espanol'' would be his choice for a title, he said. He added: ``Let it be clear that the majority of that kind of programming (Spanish-language) is made outside the borders of the United States.''
The East and West Coast academies share Emmy duties. The prime-time Emmys are organized by the Los Angeles academy, while the New York group administers sports and news Emmys. The academies collaborate on the Daytime Emmys.