Editorial: Promax deal a good start for NATPE

Feb 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Last month’s NATPE conference made clear what the television industry has known for some time: The National Association of Television Program Executives needs to make a few changes.
With the big studios setting up shop at the Venetian Hotel and the independents hawking their wares across town at the Las Vegas Convention Center, neither group attracted the kind of traffic or did the kind of business that has been a hallmark of past NATPE markets.
To make matters worse, the studios have begun sounding off about possibly abandoning the convention altogether in 2003.
NATPE President Bruce Johansen knows his organization is in need of an overhaul, and to his credit, he has been working on it. In a promising development, plans are going forward for an alliance between NATPE and the promotion and marketing group Promax BDA. The deal appears to be on track for completion before the June Promax convention in Los Angeles.
Promax, another trade organization that has struggled to keep its footing in a tough economy, would clearly benefit from such an alliance. NATPE’s clout with stations could be expected to help reverse a recent trend that has seen them abandoning the Promax convention.
The alliance also looks like a step in the right direction for NATPE-not quite the home run Mr. Johansen needs but at least a base hit. If nothing else, Promax’s international focus would give NATPE a platform from which to make inroads into the global market-a market that has become increasingly important to NATPE as its domestic business has eroded.
The marriage of programming and promotion is a natural. A merged NATPE-Promax would enable stations to work on two areas of vital interest at a single convention. But it doesn’t solve NATPE’s most pressing problem: bringing domestic syndicators and stations back into the fold.
NATPE would do well to proceed with the Promax deal, but it should resist the temptation to spend all its energy on that single pursuit. It has other work to do as well and must act decisively to renew its dedication to both studios and stations and to ensure that its convention remains a premier venue for domestic program sales.