Academy plans to move 2012 Oscar awards to early slot

Los Angeles: Academy awards organisers are looking up to shift the 2012 Oscars ceremony from its current slot in late February up a month in a bid to boost TV ratings and reclaim some of its luster.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is "ironing out the logistics" of moving the ceremony up to late January or early February as an earlier date could allow them to steal back some of the thunder from other award shows and boost TV ratings.

The date switch is yet to be approved by the Academy. A task force headed by Academy President Tom Sherak is figuring out if a date move is feasible, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"It is not a done deal yet. I think we would like to do it. Progress is being made, but we do not have it all right just yet," Sherak said.

This would not be the first time that the Academy shifts the date for the Oscars. In 2003 the ceremony was held in late March, and some past shows were in April.

The Oscars are held toward the end of a long award season. Academy officials fear that the TV audience, along with the nominees, are "burned out" by the time the Oscars are presented two months after the very last eligible films are released.

Next year, the Oscars will be presented on February 27. Other award ceremonies that will be held before the Oscars are the Critics` Choice Movie Awards on January 14, Golden Globe Awards on January 16, Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 30 and British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards on February 13.

The Academy assumes that even if the Oscars date changes, the award will still be the last movie award show because other award shows will move up in response. Still, even a few weeks could help the ceremony, organisers say.

"We still are the mother of all awards shows. But in today`s world, everybody wants it now. People don`t want to wait. You need to stay relevant," Sherak said.

Executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Bruce Davis said, "Some people feel it (Oscars) has lost some of its energy, and we are looking for energy."

Officials have tentatively decided that nominations for foreign-language movies could be announced later than the main group of nominees, which are announced around late January.

If the Oscars are moved up a month earlier, there may not be sufficient time to mail out DVDs and ballots. A committee is examining how balloting for the nominations and awards can be done online. The Academy also has to take into consideration the National Football League games, which could clash with the Oscars if the dates are changed.

With the NFL considering adding two games to its schedule, this could create a "television scheduling gridlock" between the Oscars and the league`s conference championships or Super Bowl.

The Academy has informed ABC network, on which the awards are shown, of the possible date change. The network did not object.

The Academy`s primary source of revenue comes from selling ABC the rights to the telecast. The Oscars have not been as lucrative for ABC as they once were, mainly because of lower TV ratings in recent years.

Trying to keep its ratings up, the Academy has made several changes in the ceremony, such as increasing the number of best picture nominees from five to 10 to include more mainstream movies.

During the Academy`s 2008-2009 fiscal year, USD 73.7 million -- or more than 90 per cent of its total income -- came from the television broadcasts. It spent more than USD 23 million to stage the Oscars and other events related to the award season. About 41.3 million people watched the 2010 show, the largest audience since 2005.


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