Cable and Netflix-produced shows dominated Thursday's announcement of this year's Emmy nominations over network shows, leading some to debate if a lack of FCC oversight is giving cable an award advantage.
"Maybe they should rename the Emmys the HBOs," L.A. Times reporter Joe Flint quipped, noting that the network took in the most nominations for shows like "Game of Thrones," "Girls" and "True Detective."
Back in 2013, Tech Dirt's Leigh Beadon argued that FCC regulation were keeping network shows from staying relevant as TV talent and creatives flocked to cable to push the envelope.
"Shows on the public airwaves are still forced to follow a weird pastiche of morality rules seemingly cobbled together from the standards of multiple different generations and interest groups. Not only are these rules extremely questionable in a country with free speech, they are plainly obsolete," Beadon wrote. "The networks have a whole lot of work to do if they want to regain real relevance, and they haven't always been good at it."
But last month, Variety TV columnist Brian Lowry argued that there's more at play than mere attention-grabbing controversy on cable vs. network limitation.
"Although there are obvious advantages to being able to indulge in an expletive-laden tirade on 'Veep' or bare breasts on 'Game of Thrones,' that’s probably not in the top three points of differentiation setting cable apart," Lowry wrote. "A series like 'Game of Thrones' operates with a much more expansive budget than the average TV drama, but industry folk say the real luxury is additional time — shooting episodes for twice as long as the eight-day shoots required to keep a broadcast hour on schedule."
Variety reporter Christy Grosz cited last month that cable has a variety of advantages over network shows, including attracting more A-list talent and having to produce fewer episodes per season.
Whatever lies ahead for the network vs. cable debate, "Good Wife" executive producer Robert King told Grosz the Emmys only raises the competition.
"The awards make everybody want to do better work,” he said.