2014 ASTRA Awards: winners named - showcase named Channel of the Year - Click Here
The 2014 ASTRA Awards were held on Thursday 20th March 2014.
The ASTRA Awards recognise the wealth of talent that drives the Australian subscription TV industry and highlights the creativity, commitment and investment in production and broadcasting. Entries are sought from subscription TV channels and platforms.
ASTRA AWARDS 2014 – JUDGMENT DAY
Armed with decades of experience, five minute clips on USB sticks and up to 400 words from the entrants on why they deserved to win, 52 judges made up of senior leaders from Foxtel and 19 independent channels, collaborated to select the finalists and winners of the 2014 ASTRA Awards at the Australian Technology Park on a superheated mid-December day.
On paper, entrants had to tell their show’s story and provide information on ratings, target audience, and innovation and distinctiveness.
Two new categories have been introduced for 2014 following feedback and audience response – Most Outstanding Sports Entertainment Program and Channel of the Year.
Some definitions were improved, such as ‘journalist’ versus ‘presenter’ and whether a program was ‘factual’ or not. Says Fraser Stark, Channel Operations Manager for General Entertainment at Foxtel: “There is more clarity in the definitions to delineate what’s what, such as what’s a reality series and what’s not.”
Once the judging rules were read and accepted, the rooms fell silent as the judges considered each entry on their devices and completed their individual score sheets. Involvement in a program required abstention, in which case scores were averaged to avoid disadvantage.
The scoring system seeks to avoid something that plagues awards programs - the lack of a ‘stand out’ winner and the ‘compromise winner’. The rules allow only for a choice of three scores out of five - zero, three and five - in the key categories of ratings data; evidence of popularity; distinctiveness; and innovation. And there is a special final judging criteria of ’Commendation’ which allows only a score of zero or five out of five.
Peter Noble, Senior Production Manager, Disney Channel, identifies what makes a program stand out: “What great storytelling can do is – it’s almost like you are suspended in time and space. It’s a great story if you are so consumed by it that everything else just disappears.”
The judging process is only slightly different to the International Emmy Awards, Chris Keely, General Manager, Subscription TV, SBS Corporation, explains, as those entries are judged in a room on a big screen with no screening time limit.
After the efficient team from independent organisers Two De Force has collected and totalled the scores, each group of judges reviews and discusses their joint decision. This is something Phllyisse Stanton, CEO and Managing Director of the Aurora Community Channel appreciates, as “quite often there are ideas and feedback from other judges on things that you have not considered or have not been considered.”
The general nature of the ratings information on one entry is raised. The chairman ends it: “the rules are the rules and putting accurate information in the applications is one of the criteria.”
And so the finalists to be put to an audience vote for the “Favourite” Awards are determined, and winners chosen in the other categories.
The judges appreciate the rigour of the process. Stephen Baldwin, who worked at Foxtel for 12 years and is now Director of Business and Operations at AI -Media, a closed captioning company, says: “I think they’ve got it right. I think it’s difficult to make sure you have a system that’s completely impartial, and the rules that are in place do this.”