The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) grabs headlines each January with its annual conference and market but remains active year-round as the only organization dedicated to the business of production and distribution of content across all platforms. The NATPE global community is inhabited by a diverse family of smart, opinionated and vocal leaders representing all facets of the content business. NATPE 365 offers a weekly pulpit for individuals on the NATPE Board, top executives from member companies and other players to sound off to TVWeek’s worldwide audience.

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July 2008 Archives

Cable's Clout

July 22, 2008 5:28 AM

Once upon a time, the TV biz, particularly the broadcast networks, (who at the time were called "The Big 3" - or 3-1/2, if you were the young Fox) ruled the Emmy Awards. Then, year by year, this upstart, HBO, started to command nominations and victories.

Not since the Falklands invasion has there been so serious an incursion on the status quo. There were attempts to confine cable to the Cable Ace Awards (long-gone and lamented by some). Then, the cable fraternity abandoned the Aces, feeling that it was time for Emmy recognition.

It took a few years, but if you caught the 2008 nominations recently, you can almost hear the hand-wringing going on in the broadcast camps. So many - more than ever - of the nominations went to cable nets, in scripted as well as non-scripted programming.

So... it's here. Cable networks now have not only a bigger cumulative audience and a lot more programs to attract them, but the quality graphs of broadcast and cable networks have pretty much evened out.

No surprise to some (especially if you have a few companies with “cable” in your name!) ... and expect more. Though it’s hard to define a “cable program” any longer….especially when there’s so much back-and-forth/repurposing between co-owned b’cast/cable nets.

NATPE has done a great job opening its arms to all kinds and sources of programming over the years. And, in my 30 years of attending, we’ve seen the steady growth of cable buyers patrolling the aisles or selling their wares. It’s still the only place to get all the U.S. players, of all owners and sizes, together under one roof.

Is this programming better? Is broadcast programming worse? Is it kinda more of the same? It’s always in the eyes of the beholder (translation: viewer). But if NBC/ABC/CBS/FOX/CW keep going in a direction of game shows, reality-competition, repurposed/reruns, and even if they own some of their cable competitors, look for more audience fragmentation ... and more awards to the camp that’s doing quality work, regardless of their place on the dial.

—Gary Lico, President and CEO, CABLEready, and CEO, CableU

NATPE Memories

July 10, 2008 3:53 PM

NATPE, January 1994 – Miami.

My job as assistant to the executive producers of "Baywatch" had led to my first producing job on their next series, "Thunder in Paradise." NATPE was the scene of the big series kickoff and the coming out party for the newly minted Rysher Entertainment.

The company had a fat checkbook and nothing was too grandiose for the NATPE party at the Doral Hotel. The newly re-united were Eagles booked to play on a stage poolside with the beach at their back. My job – coordinate the placement of the 43 foot Wellcraft offshore racer that had been customized to be something of a PT Boat on steroids for the series -- and to book a dozen “Thunder Girls” as eye candy to surround our star, wrestling idol, Hulk Hogan. Between his biceps and their breasts, there was a whole lot of shakin’ going on.

Like any good NATPE blowout, the party got wild fast. When people began jumping in the pool with all of their clothes on, it became legendary. I was somewhat pre-occupied when a band member began hitting on one of the girls. They had to be whisked out before the show wrapped, just to make sure they would be well rested for their next-day chores on the floor.

1994 may well have been the high-water mark of first-run syndication hours. NATPE was the defining market for any producer or distributor looking to secure that magic clearance number of 70%, and many shows that entered the market as long shots walked out with a green light. Middle and indie outfits were players in the wild, wild west of syndication in that era.

In those 14 years since NATPE, Miami, much has changed. Hulk Hogan is a reality TV star. The Eagles have reunited many more times and are laughing all the way to the bank. Thanks to the miracles of plastic surgery, it is likely that the Thunder Girls look exactly the same. I have aged, however, as most people thought I was 20 at the time, I still have a slight advantage over the truth.

NATPE has changed as well. It’s become the third leg of the critical international marketplace for American studios, along with European buyers and sellers. New Media companies have joined the mix with the explosion of iTunes, YouTube, Hulu, and other services that are becoming part of the rights waterfall of television programming.

Whatever the platform, content remains king and NATPE houses the throne.

—Kevin Beggs, NATPE co-chair and president, programming and production at Lionsgate

On the Road to NATPE

July 9, 2008 5:19 PM

Welcome to the new NATPE blog on TVWeek.com. We want to thank the TVWeek editors for recognizing that NATPE is a year-round organization offering opportunities to connect and do business around the world and throughout the calendar.

Each week you’ll be hearing from diverse members of the NATPE community as they share their attitudes and opinions about the content business – today and tomorrow. These will be the leaders in multiplatform video production, distribution, acquisition, advertising, law, finance and sales.

For 46 years, in addition to the annual market and conference in January, NATPE has offered year-round activities. We know there are many imposters in the marketplace promising access and connections to the video content business while filling their pockets with cash. However, NATPE’s formidable relationships create a unique and one-of-a-kind environment for the best talent available in the world of digital media to meet and develop opportunities for the buying, selling and sharing of content and creative ideas.

Our non-profit status allows us to not only offer all of these activities at no cost or low cost, but also provide worthwhile programs that support diversity in our industry through the Diversity Fellowship program, professional development for university and college educators through our Faculty Development Grant and the next generation of media professionals by hosting bi-annual career workshop in the top 50 markets across the U.S.

Coming up next on our slate is the second annual NATPE LATV Fest being held July 30 through August 1 in Hollywood. This highly dynamic and information packed three-day festival encompasses the Digital Day and the Content Industry Forum (formerly the TV Producers’ Boot Camp) including the Pitch Pit and Schmoozefest.

We’d like to offer a special NATPE TVWeek blog discount of 30% off an all access pass to the festival. Register now and be sure to use promo code TVWAA.

We hope you’ll find our weekly NATPE posts worthwhile, interesting and thought-provoking. Please be sure to give me and the NATPE team your feedback and comments.

— By Rick Feldman, NATPE president and chief executive officer