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Production firm behind new awards ‘will abstain from entering’ in move to avoid conflict of interest

The television producer behind the newly-launched Asian Academy Awards (AAA) has revealed his company will not enter any of the 49 categories in a move to ensure the integrity of the awards.

ActiveTV president Michael McKay said “I wouldn’t feel right”, if the company were to walk away with any gongs.

But he said Active TV would produce the awards and provide digital media.

McKay unveiled the AAA last week in an event that could see if go head-to-head with the well-established – but troubled – Asian TV Awards. Both events are slated to take place in December, although neither show has released dates or venues.

“Right from the get-go we decided that, as beautiful as these awards will be, we can’t win one,” McKay told Mumbrella. “So ActiveTV will abstain from entering the awards so as to avoid any inference of a conflict.”

Staff were disappointed he said, but fully understood the reasons behind the decision.

“I wouldn‘t feel right [if we won],” McKay said.

He added that the Asian Academy Awards Pte Ltd is a separate legal entity from ActiveTV and would operate with different staff and separate “financial systems”.

Michael McKay: ‘Legacy project’

Asked about the role of Turner Asia Pacific president Ricky Ow as AAA chairman, McKay said it was no different from other awards, including the Singapore Media Awards whose chairman is Mediacom Singapore chief executive Vivian Yeung.

“Industry awards often have a representative chairman. Ricky will abstain from any matters that might represent a potential conflict. This is normal for such a role,” he said.

Turner Asia Pacific creates and distributes brands throughout the region including CNN International, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and HBO.

McKay, who expressed his “delight” at the early interest from the industry, said it would aim to make a profit from the awards but claimed that was not the prime motivator for the venture. It was more a “legacy project” to give something back to the industry, he said.

“We aren’t just running industry awards, we are investing back into the industry by running skills development initiatives such as workshops, master classes and industry panels. We will also sponsor qualifying winners into the International Emmy Awards,” he said.

“After we meet these commitments we would like to see a profit but our expectations are realistic. We are in this for the long term. We consider this a legacy project.”

McKay said ActiveTV “learnt a long time ago” through its running of Sydney’s Carols in the Domain of the need for financial viability.

“Carols in the Domain is a major community event, it raises money for the Salvation Army and has strong civic values, but we learnt a long time ago that if it doesn’t make money each year it would cease to exist. We don’t want that for the Carols or the Awards.

“But what the awards have to be is industry led and they need to contribute back into the industry.”

At the launch McKay said the Asian Academy Awards will be “for the industry by the industry” and would “serve the creative industries as the pinnacle of their achievement in content creation and media production”.

“I am president of both the AAA and ActiveTV but I think it’s high time the people who run the awards come from the industry,” he said. “You get to a stage where you want to ensure you are contributing to your industry.”

The awards want to showcase Asian talent with the hope, and intention, of achieving greater recognition on the global stage, McKay added.

The launch of the AAA comes as ActiveTV remains in a legal tussle with Raymond Wong, the organiser of the Asian TV Awards.

In April the Singapore High Court ordered Asian Television Awards to pay ActiveTV $292,000 for work it carried out at the 2017 event. Wong is due back in court next Friday where he will be quizzed by lawyers over an apparent failure to pay.

The Asian TV Awards is also due to take place in December in Singapore

Asian TV Awards is also no longer part of the Singapore Media Festival after the Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority pulled its funding from the 2018 awards.

Mediacorp, meanwhile, said it was reviewing its participation, while the media firm’s chief executive Tham Loke Kheng stepped down from the Advisory Board.

Earlier this week the AAA revealed its 49 categories, with each country winner progressing to the gala ceremony to take place in Singapore.

Categories will acknowledge the region’s best content makers “regardless of platform”, it said.

Among the awards include one for 360 video, AR and AR under the category ‘Best Immersive’, while Best Video Game is nod to animation work in Asia.

Also included is Best Special FX and Best Promo or Trailer, described by organisers as the “sometimes forgotten aspect of our industry”.

Advertising is covered under Best Ad (TVC or Digital) and Best Branded Programme or Series.

However, in a move which the AAA have admitted will be controversial, sports programming will not be recognised.

McKay said he did not feel there was sufficient support to warrant the addition of sports categories. But that could change over time, he added.

Further details regarding judging panels and sponsors are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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