By Joe Flint 

NBC said it wouldn't broadcast the Golden Globes next year, citing a lack of reform in the organizing body behind the annual awards show. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of international journalists and critics that has bestowed the awards since the 1940s, has been criticized for a lack of diversity and concerns about its nomination process.

NBC's move comes after viewership of the most recent Globes ceremony sustained a 62% drop, much of which could be attributed to apathetic audiences during the Covid pandemic and a glitchy show that unfolded mostly online. The network, which has an eight-year deal to air the Globes, beginning with the 2019 ceremony, left the door open to a return of the telecast.

"We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023," NBC said in a statement.

"Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly -- and as thoughtfully -- as possible remains the top priority for our organization," HFPA board members said in a statement Monday. "We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large." The organization has an estimated 87 members.

NBC's announcement comes amid boycotts of the HFPA by major studios, including Amazon and Netflix, and WarnerMedia.

In a letter to the HFPA's leadership committee reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote that the streaming company would be "stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made." Over questions of diversity and ethics, Mr. Sarandos wrote that the streamer and the talent it works with "cannot ignore the HFPA's collective failure to address these crucial issues with urgency and rigor."

Amazon studio head Jen Salke said in a statement last week: "We have not been working with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward."

The leadership of WarnerMedia, parent of Warner Bros. and HBO, told the HFPA in a letter seen by The Wall Street Journal, "We don't believe the plan goes far enough in addressing the breadth of our concerns, nor does your timeline capture the immediate need by which these issues should be addressed. WarnerMedia Studios and Networks will continue to refrain from direct engagement with the HFPA, including sanctioned press conferences and invitations to cover other industry events with talent, until these changes are implemented."

The HFPA announced a new set of changes to address its diversity and oversight, including expanding its membership by 50% over the next 18 months and making changes within its executive ranks. "We understand that the hard work starts now and we remain dedicated to becoming a better organization and an example of diversity, transparency, and accountability in this industry," the HFPA posted on its site last week.

The HFPA's move to make changes came after a February Los Angeles Times investigation raised questions about how the organization operates and its finances and alleged that its members' votes can be swayed by fancy junkets and access to stars. The coverage also criticized the HFPA's lack of diversity.

In response to the Los Angeles Times, the HFPA said, "None of these allegations has ever been proven in court or in any investigation, [and they] simply repeat old tropes about the HFPA and reflect unconscious bias against the HFPA's diverse membership."

Actors including Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo have spoken out against the group in recent days.

NBC pays an average fee of about $60 million a year for the Globes. By comparison the Oscars, awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are in the $100 million range.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 10, 2021 17:45 ET (21:45 GMT)

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