NBC breaks silence on Golden Globes controversy

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NBCUniversal has lengthy saved a good grip on the annual Golden Globe Awards — one among Hollywood’s most prized occasions.

The awards present has aired on NBC for 25 years, and in 2018, NBCUniversal solidified its perch by renewing its TV rights cope with the Hollywood International Press Assn. and Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes telecast.

NBCUniversal accepted a staggering enhance in charges as a result of the present had grown in prominence, changing into much more vital to the community and its advertisers who battle to have interaction viewers in a fractured TV panorama.

NBCUniversal agreed to pay the group of worldwide journalists and Dick Clark Productions almost $60 million a yr by 2026 for rights to televise Hollywood’s evening of glitz and glamour — up from about $21 million a yr in 2018.

However now, all of that’s unsure.

The Hollywood International Press Assn. is in turmoil following a Los Angeles Instances investigation, which uncovered questionable enterprise practices and the dearth of Black members. The 87-member group has not had a Black member in additional than 20 years, and this week, greater than 100 of the leisure trade’s strongest publicists despatched a blistering letter to the HFPA, threatening to chop off the group’s entry to their star purchasers except the group makes important reforms.

The publicists and Time’s Up, the activist group that was based by outstanding girls in Hollywood, have known as out NBCUniversal’s affiliation with the HFPA. Some have argued the Comcast Corp.-owned media firm shares duty for the embattled group’s issues, which the publicists, of their letter, wrote included “discriminatory conduct, unprofessionalism, moral impropriety and alleged monetary corruption.”

The HFPA introduced that it could rent a range and fairness professional and interact in outreach to attempt to recruit Black journalists and others from underrepresented backgrounds. This week the HFPA vowed to broaden its membership from 87 to 100 or extra, including at the least 13 Black journalists to its ranks.

Till now, NBCUniversal has remained quiet concerning the HFPA, which has pledged to provide you with an motion plan by Might 6. However NBCUniversal’s silence to this point has solely added to the controversy.

“On this day and time, you’ll be able to’t air a program in your community after which step again and say ‘We have now nothing to do with it’,” Todd Boyd, a professor of cinema and media research at USC Faculty of Cinematic Arts, stated. “NBC has an excessive amount of affect as a result of they finance the group and air the Golden Globes on their community. They have to be concerned in altering these unlucky circumstances.”

NBCUniversal gives the most important income to the HFPA. Its license price is split between Dick Clark Productions and the HFPA, which final fiscal yr pulled in $27.4 million from the community.

One of many trade’s most outstanding producers, Shonda Rhimes (“Bridgerton,” “Gray’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”), this month put it extra bluntly in a Twitter message: “Hey, @NBCUniversal, how a lot cash do you pay to this org with no black individuals? @comcast, you’re good with that?” Rhimes requested.

In an interview with The Instances, NBCUniversal Govt Vice President and Chief Range Officer Craig Robinson responded to the criticism and stated the community has spent the final three weeks working behind the scenes in collaboration with its two companions — the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions.

“Our perceived silence on this shouldn’t be equated with apathy or an absence of concern,” Robinson stated. “We’re taking these points very significantly, and we additionally perceive our function and the significance of our function in encouraging HFPA to make what we deem to be obligatory modifications — and we’re utilizing that affect.”

Robinson stated NBCUniversal executives, together with Susan Rovner, who’s chairman of tv and streaming leisure content material; and Frances Berwick, who’s chairman of leisure networks, started a sequence of conferences with the HFPA days after the Feb. 28 awards present. Throughout a number of conferences, Robinson stated, the NBCUniversal delegation has confused that the present’s viability relies on the group’s efforts to reform.

Amongst different issues, NBCUniversal has requested the HFPA to recruit Black and different various members and likewise handle questionable enterprise practices detailed in The Instances article, together with the group’s use of its funds. The Instances’ investigation revealed the group pays members to observe films, take part in a slew of committees and carry out Globes-related duties, together with writing articles for the group’s web site.

“There isn’t a transparency and no accountability, and that simply results in moral lapses,” Time’s Up President and Chief Govt Tina Tchen stated, including that NBCUniversal must shoulder a few of the duty. “There can be little curiosity in a personal membership’s ideas on movies however for the platform that NBCUniversal, Comcast and Dick Clark Productions gives this group,” Tchen stated.

Some NBCUniversal executives privately have bristled over requires NBCUniversal to raised police the group. These executives level out that NBCUniversal doesn’t personal the Golden Globes and that it shouldn’t be liable for the conduct of particular person HFPA members.

As an alternative, they are saying NBCUniversal distributes this system on behalf of Dick Clark Productions and the HFPA. As a part of the TV rights deal, NBCUniversal requires HFPA to adjust to varied legal guidelines, together with anti-discrimination statutes and the Communications Act of 1934.

NBC dropped the Globes after the FCC present in 1968 that the awards broadcast “considerably misleads the general public as to how the winners had been chosen and the procedures adopted in selecting them.”

Neither Robinson nor different NBC executives would say whether or not the corporate has threatened to finish the license settlement early. The contract extends by the 2026 awards present.

“As a corporation, we maintain ourselves to a excessive normal of transparency, ethics and creating an inclusive tradition,” Robinson stated. “It is crucial that our companions suppose equally in the case of these points.”

Dcp declined to remark. An individual near firm stated it has additionally been working behind the scenes with the HFPA and can consider what reforms the affiliation makes.

A supply shut the HFPA confirmed it has met with NBC a number of occasions. “We’re engaged on implementing our motion plan and are dedicated to doing the work,” stated the supply. “We sit up for persevering with to work collectively sooner or later.”

Through the years, the awards present has turn into more and more vital for NBC and burnished the peacock community’s repute.

“Everybody within the trade clamors to get inside that ballroom for the Golden Globes,” stated one longtime publicist who was not approved to remark.

As soon as extensively ridiculed, the Golden Globe Awards are the official kickoff for Hollywood’s annual awards season.

In its September 2018 announcement of a brand new deal, NBC crowed that the Golden Globes had turn into “one among greatest nights on the calendar for dwell viewing.”

The Golden Globe Awards sometimes trailed solely the annual Oscar telecast on ABC. (The Walt Disney Co. community pays an annual license price of about $100 million). In some years, its scores exceeded these for the Grammys telecast on CBS. And in contrast to the Grammys, which has seen its viewership fluctuate in recent times, the Golden Globes’ scores held regular. Till this yr, it gave the impression to be immune from scores declines plaguing broadcasters.

This yr, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing producers to stage the present with out stars within the viewers, the viewership slumped to an all-time low of 6.9 million viewers, in response to Nielsen information.

The Golden Globe Awards is now not worthwhile for NBCUniversal, in response to a educated government who was not approved to talk publicly. Nonetheless, the present brings different advantages, together with boosting the publicity of NBCUniversal’s movie star cable channel E!, and its pink carpet present, and selling different programming on NBC and the corporate’s different cable channels. The present additionally strengthens the corporate’s hand in its negotiations with pay-TV distributors and advertisers.

The Golden Globe Awards introduced in $47.5 million in promoting income for the NBC broadcast in 2020, down from the excessive water mark of $51.9 million in 2019 when such common films as “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” had been in competition for main awards, in response to Gregory Aston at Kantar Media, which tracks promoting spending.

“It’s a premium dwell viewers, and that makes NBC way more engaging to advertisers,” Aston stated. “Advertisers have been leaning into dwell occasion s— that’s the place they’re searching for shoppers.”

Instances Employees Author Stacy Perman contributed to this report.

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