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NATPE matters for some stations

Jan 21, 2002  •  Post A Comment

While many station managers are not attending the National Association of Television Program Executives convention this year, the ranks are not exactly deserting, either. Some station groups will have representation, even if it’s top brass on hand just to keep up with old contacts.
Young Broadcasting is sending a contingent led by Deb McDermott, executive VP of operations, along with Don Corsini, general manager of KCAL-TV, Los Angeles, and Paul “Dino” Dinovitz, general manager of KRON-TV, San Francisco. Both stations are independents.
“We still have some holes, and we are going to be looking for product,” Ms. McDermott said. “I haven’t seen `The Wayne Brady Show,’ so I’ll be looking at that. We have two independent stations in major markets, and we still have some things we’re interested in buying.”
Other shows of interest to Young include Paramount Domestic Television’s hour-long “Life Moments,” which follows real women in everyday situations, and the Warner Bros. half-hour “Celebrity Justice.”
Cox Broadcasting executives headed for NATPE include Andy Fisher, president of Cox TV, Bruce Baker, executive VP of Cox TV, and Jeff Block, general manager of KTVU-TV, San Francisco. From Belo, Television Group President Jack Sander as well as Senior VPs Skip Cass and Dennis Williamson will attend.
Mr. Cass is going because last week he added general manager of independent KTVK-TV, and WB affiliate KASW-TV, both in Phoenix, to his duties. Some other Belo general managers in charge of duopolies will also attend.
“We left it up to each general manager,” said Mr. Williamson, who also has been nominated for a position on the NATPE board (election results will be announced at the end of the conference). “I’m going because responsibility for programming falls under me, and I just think I need to be there. Skip Cass is going because KTVK, as an independent, really has strong relationships with a lot of syndicators, and having everybody at one place and one time is a great way to meet everyone.”
Sinclair Broadcast Group stations will not have any representation. “It isn’t related to fear of flying or cutbacks. It’s just all of our programming purchase decisions have already been made,” said Sinclair spokesman Mark Hyman.
Executives from several Hearst-Argyle Television stations, including WCVB-TV, Boston, and WMOR-TV, Tampa, Fla., will also be attending, as will Hearst-Argyle’s President and CEO David Barrett and VP of Programming Emerson Coleman. WMOR’s Ken Lucas is the only general manager from a Hearst-Argyle station attending, because WMOR is an independent.
“We’ll have a sizable presence,” Mr. Coleman said. “We’re going to finish out the 2002 lineup, and we have to complete our late-night and weekend program schedule.”
Mr. Coleman said it’s also a time to meet with their partners at NBC Enterprises. “Last year at this time, we hadn’t really completed our production arrangement with NBC Enterprises, and this will mark the first year of that arrangement, and it’s been an exceptional year, with new shows like `Weakest Link,’ `The Other Half’ and `John Walsh.’
“NATPE is going to be more active than people realize,” Mr. Coleman said. “Now you have `The Wayne Brady Show,’ which didn’t exist several weeks ago. There’s `Life Moments,’ a magazine-style format based on storytelling as opposed to a traditional talk show, and John Walsh and Caroline Rhea and all of those that were not clearly formed and shaped, so there are some important decisions that will be made on the floor at this point.”
Patrick Mullen, president of Tribune Television, will also be attending, as will Marc Schacher, VP of programming. Both have “wall-to-wall meetings” lined up. “Marc will represent our interests in total, and a lot of the reps that our general managers work with from the syndication companies aren’t going. It’s more high-level management from both sides,” Mr. Mullen said.
Some station managers will be at NATPE for the Fox affiliate board meeting, such as Mark Higgins, general manager at Fox affiliate WOFL-TV, Orlando, Fla., who is also vice chairman of the Fox affiliate board, which was scheduled to hold its monthly meeting at NATPE on Sunday.
The board will elect new officers and discuss the inventory buyback plan, which ends in June. Station managers want to eliminate the buyback plan, which they’ve referred to as “reverse compensation.”
“The pre-eminent issue is discussion of the prime-time inventory purchase agreement,” Mr. Higgins said. “The term expires in June, so we’re having some aggressive conversations right now. We don’t know their position. We started some dialogue.” The Fox affiliate board is also looking forward to meeting Tony Vinciquerra, the new Fox Network president.