LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sponsors of Hollywood's Golden Globe Awards said on Friday they will take control from TV network NBC of a weekend news conference announcing winners of the coveted film and TV honors, which will open the live broadcast to other media.
The announcement of the open media event by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association sparked a response from striking film and TV writers assuring the HFPA they would not picket it.
The Golden Globe Awards are one of Hollywood's glitziest TV awards shows reaching more than 20 million viewers, and they are a key indicator of what movies may compete for February's Oscars, the world's top movie honors.
But this year's Golden Globes ceremony, which was planned for January 13, had been canceled in favor of a news conference on the same day because of the strike by members of the Writers Guild of America.
The WGA, which represents some 10,500 film and TV writers, had threatened to picket the Golden Globes ceremony. Many actors had said they would refuse to cross picket lines.
As a result, the HFPA canceled its ceremony in favor of the news conference but NBC, which owned the right to broadcast the ceremony, said it would be the only TV network to air it live.
By Thursday, the network had not revealed the format of the one-hour conference except to say it would be preceded by a taped two-hour "Dateline NBC" special on the Golden Globes hosted by Matt Lauer of NBC's weekday morning show "Today."
NBC's plans sparked an outcry from Golden Globes' producer Dick Clark Productions and media watchdogs who said the show was truly an entertainment program masquerading as a news conference because other networks were restricted from the live broadcast and NBC exclusively was profiting from it.
On Friday, Dick Clark Productions issued a statement saying NBC's plans were "unfair and unacceptable."
"NBC wanted to have an exclusive three-hour broadcast special disguised as a news conference that would bar all other media, and yet was unwilling to pay a nominal license fee to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions," the statement said.
In the past, the Golden Globes generated $15 million to $20 million in advertising revenue for the General Electric Co.-owned network, and its entertainment division normally paid about $6 million to the HFPA for show rights, according to published reports.
It was not immediately clear on Friday if other networks would now air their own live telecast of the news conference.
An NBC spokeswoman noted other networks were never barred from covering the conference, only that they could not show it live. The spokeswoman said now they can do so with no restrictions, and added that NBC's coverage plans had not changed.
An HFPA spokesman said no nominees are scheduled to appear at the news conference to accept awards. "It's still just a press conference," said Michael Russell, HFPA spokesman.
The WGA launched its strike against major studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, on November 5 in a contract dispute that hinges on how writers should be paid for work distributed on the Internet.
The walkout has thrown the TV industry into disarray, derailed several movie productions and is threatening to spoil Hollywood's annual awards season.
Editing by Mohammad Zargham