This year, the language issue has been a prevailing topic in award ceremonies in the United States. Both the Academy Awards and the Emmys are introducing changes in their structure and selection processes to accommodate foreign language television and films. The nominating and voting systems of the foreign-language category of the Oscars have seen major changes which eliminate certain requirements that nominated films have traditionally had to meet. The change will allow voters to watch the nominated movies on DVD, which means that more Academy members will be able to vote this year. The Emmys, on the other hand, have introduced new categories for Daytime Emmys, Sports Emmys and News & Documentary Emmys, which will now take Spanish-language programs into account. The changes, which were announced on Tuesday, are results of the development of Spanish television in the United States in the last fifty years.
Changes in Best Foreign Language Film Category Selection Process
Originally, the Academy had established that its members had to have seen all five nominated films in theatrical settings if they were to vote in the Best Foreign Language Film category. However, this considerably reduced the more than 6,000 members to a couple hundred who were actually allowed to vote. The rule was meant to make the competition even and avoid a popularity contest between the movies from taking over the voting, but the new measure will make it easier for Academy members to watch the film and participate in the process. After the measure, the role of advertisement will indeed play a more important role but, in compensation, the process will turn into a more democratic one.
The changes leave the individual countries’ selection of movies for submission unaffected. The issue will keep causing controversies mainly due to the difference between the selection processes in different countries. In some, Oscar candidates get chosen by an important democratic body made up of professionals who are in the movie industry. Other countries have small panels to make the decision instead. A variety of countries have come up with very surprising decisions throughout the years and there is still very little that can be done by the Academy to alter this situation, although there are some ideas and plans to modify the system in the future.
New Spanish-Language Categories in the Emmys
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has created the categories of Outstanding Morning Program in Spanish, Entertainment Program in Spanish and Daytime Talent in a Spanish-language Program for the Daytime Emmys. For the Sports Emmys, there are new categories for Sports Coverage in Spanish, Studio Show in Spanish and On-air Sports Talent in Spanish. In the case of News & Documentary Emmys, the new categories created are Newscast or News Magazine in Spanish, Coverage of a Breaking-news Story in Spanish and Investigative Journalism in Spanish.
According to the NATAS’s chairman Malachy Wienges, the organization is aware of the changes in American television, which are a direct consequence of the changes in an increasingly multicultural audience. The new categories will be judged by a panel made up of Spanish speaking professionals, so the entries will not need to provide versions with subtitles.