Dear Bruce:

As promised, here is a note listing the 10-point grievances I have with what is now called the International Academy (IA), and was formerly known as the International Council of Television Arts and Sciences.

First of all, thank you for the personal call after my December 20, 2006 letter of resignation, which I’d like to summarize below before moving to the laundry list.

About your question of why I hadn’t called you first, before firing off that letter, suffice it to say that VideoAge’s Day One MIPCOM Daily, last October 9, ran a “2¢” feature addressing some of the problems facing the IA. Even though the feature was widely read and commented upon, no call from the IA was received inquiring, “What was that all about?” as the expression goes. So, it was logical to assume that the IA wasn’t all that interested in my resignation.

As the letter indicated, I’ve been a member of the IA from almost the beginning. Some still remember that, before I could become a member, the then-Council had to seek special approval from its whole board, since its by-laws did not then even contemplate membership from journalists. Apparently, then we weren’t considered part of the industry; just some annoying pests!

However, such was the Council’s prestige in the industry that a journalist would endure humiliation, just to become a part of it. Picture the initiation of college students into the Delta House frat featured in Animal House.

The resignation letter pointed out the services I’ve provided to the Academy (such as directories), and the enormous satisfaction received from its activities.

Then it continued: “For the past few years, the IA has lost its function, mandate and leadership. Its once revered statuette seems no longer appreciated or valued.

“The association is slipping away from the membership and moving into a direction that has nothing to do with its members’ goals. Indeed, there are at least 10 issues that need immediate attention and, if requested, I will be willing to express them in my direct and frank trademark fashion.”

Now, before enumerating the alluded 10 points, it’s important to reiterate what was said during our conversation –– that, when something like this goes first to print without a detailed explanation, it only shows the tip of the iceberg. It also indicates that the dissatisfaction is widespread (as indicated by other resignations) since we, as journalists, reflect what’s out there like a mirror.

The most important issue the IA faces is the loss of prestige once associated with the International Emmys. I don’t recall a recent winner of the prestigious statuette to have bragged about it in a press release or a trade ad. Thus, my suggestions:

IA should subsidize, or at least encourage, the placing of congratulatory ads by winners of the International Emmys (also involving the program distribution company).

The International Emmy Awards ceremony should alternate between New York City and Los Angeles. Also to be considered is a third venue such as NATPE in Las Vegas. This is for several reasons, including facilitating the presence of L.A.-based members.

Those members asked to judge programs should receive a better discount on the Awards ceremony gala. Right now the IA does little for its judges and doesn’t do anything for its members.

IA’s management is too bloated. In the past it operated with an executive director and a part-time assistant. Today, the association has had to increase its fee in order to pay for its large staff. Additionally, in the past, the hiring of its executive director was a membership affair. Today, people are hired and dismissed without members’ involvement.

IA has become too political, allowing politicians to use it as a platform for partisan politics.

There should be a term limit for Board members –– especially for the president and chairman. Plus, once one has served as president or chairman, he/she should not assume the other position.

IA should at least produce a newsletter. It certainly has enough personnel to do it, especially since it was done when it operated as a one-man band!

When IA sets out on a mission, the findings should be shared with its membership, otherwise the mission becomes useless for those associated.

IA should redefine its role and goals.

The membership should be involved in all IA decisions.

There are some others issues to go over, but for now, I’ll limit them to the aforementioned 10. After all, one cannot be too critical at once!

Dom Serafini

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