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NATPE Lures Distributors to Confab Floor

Oct 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Television Program Executives made some positive inroads last week in its effort to evolve and reaffirm itself as a key locale for program distributors. And the momentum could continue.
The organization, now run by President and CEO Rick Feldman, received commitments from CBS Enterprises (which includes King World Productions and CBS Broadcast International), Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and Universal’s domestic and international operations to return to the convention floor this January. Others, including Twentieth Television, Tribune and Paramount, are mulling returns as well after a two-year absence, according to sources. Sony and NBC announced their commitments to the floor earlier in the year.
New initiatives and one giant tent at the Venetian Hotel and Sands Expo Center have prompted some distributors to return, according to Mr. Feldman, who since taking over for former CEO Bruce Johansen has spent his time meeting with the companies to gauge their concern.
“The first thing everybody wanted was to be under one roof,” he said. “That we accomplished by moving to the Venetian. Then we modified our floor plans to show them that if we do the booths simpler than we have in the past, we can pull the prices down and it will make sense to come back.”
A mass exodus two years ago by major syndicators put NATPE in a financial crunch. Syndicators complained that spending up to $2 million at the annual market was fiscally irresponsible, prompting a shift of business from the floor to nearby hotel suites.
Another initiative promoted by the organization was the creation of a new VIP Buyer Membership category to facilitate the day-to-day activities of television program acquisition executives representing broadcast TV stations, networks and cable channels in the United States and throughout the world.
The $200 membership fee includes registration to NATPE’s 2004 conference (Jan. 18 to 20 at the Sands Expo Center and Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas), transportation via limousine to and from the airport for international buyers, an annual Professional Membership to NATPE and an array of business services.