Television Academy Disqualifies ‘a Few’ Members for Block Voting

The Academy had flagged block voting as an area of particular concern in this year’s rulebook

Last Updated: June 12, 2019 @ 10:23 PM

The Television Academy has disqualified some members who have taken part in block voting during Emmy nomination voting, Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma said on Wednesday, the third day of voting.

“The Television Academy has disqualified a few members who were engaged in the early stages of a block voting strategy for the first round of Emmy voting,” said Scherma in a statement.

“This is a direct violation of our rules of competition and our member code of conduct. This type of activity will not be tolerated. The Emmy stands for excellence and the integrity of this award is of paramount importance to the television industry.

“We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to ensure the fairness of this competition. In addition to our own rigorous safeguards, our independent auditors at EY monitor Emmy voting for potential improprieties.”

The statement did not identify the members whose votes were disqualified or detail the type of activity in which they were engaged or how they were discovered, though the language suggests that a group of allied members cast identical ballots as part of a strategy.

The members were from the Television Academy’s performers peer group, one of the 30 peer groups within the Academy.

The rules do not automatically disqualify the shows or individuals who are the beneficiary of block voting, but they do invalidate the offending members’ votes and disqualify them from subsequent voting.

The Academy had recently flagged block or quid pro quo voting as an area of concern in its rules, adding this language to the 2019 rule book in both the nominating and final voting sections:

“Quid pro quo and block voting are considered by the Academy to be in violation of the spirit and substance of the member code of conduct clause that deems any action or activity which could reasonably be construed as contrary or detrimental to the best interests of the Academy to be a violation of the code. Emmy voting is meant to reflect an individual voter’s opinion rather than an ad-hoc group’s mandate.

“Per Paragraph 14 of the rules book chapter on ENTRY PROCEDURES, ineligible entries will be disqualified at any stage of the competition. The intent of quid pro quo and block voting is to illegitimately advance an entry to a nomination or a nomination to a win. Although the entry, nomination or win may or may not be deemed ineligible, members found to be engaged or otherwise complicit in quid pro quo and block voting shall have any votes cast invalidated and be disqualified from subsequent voting in the Emmy competition.”

The new language suggested that the Academy had grown concerned enough about block voting to add a warning to the rule book – but when TheWrap asked a spokesperson in May whether that was the case, the Academy declined to get specific and only said, “Rules are not new per se but we thought it was a good opportunity to reiterate the importance here.”