Feldman Takes On NATPE Challenge

Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Television Program Executives is prepared to do some soul searching as its first conference under President and CEO Rick Feldman’s regime kicks off.
“Everything will be on the table” when NATPE board members sit down to plan future conferences, Mr. Feldman said. For example, despite a previously announced plan to make Las Vegas NATPE’s indefinite home, Mr. Feldman said that nothing is set in stone. In fact, among the issues he said the board is poised to address is where to hold the 2005 market. Board members are also likely to discuss moving the gathering from a January date and the possibility of an all-suite convention-harking back to the organization’s early days.
“There is good and bad in every move,” he said. “In the end, we’ll weigh the pluses and minuses of every idea.”
The board plans to meet two weeks after the conference wraps instead of beforehand, as the group has done before. “To me, none of what we’ve been able to do so far means anything until we see how it all works together,” Mr. Feldman said. “I’m excited to see how some of my initiatives, such as the chat room and panels, work out.”
Among the high-profile panels Mr. Feldman has orchestrated for this year’s gathering will be the conference keynote on Sunday given by Chris Matthews, who has planned a speech titled “Boss Tube Beats Out Boss Tweed: How the Electronic Media Took Over Electoral Politics.” In addition, new talk show host Pat Croce will join the “Loose Cannons” Super Session panel, which will be moderated by Larry King and feature King World’s Roger King, HDNet’s Mark Cuban, talk show host Jerry Springer and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. “Loose Cannons” will take place Monday.
Mr. Feldman was hired last year after serving as executive VP and chief operating officer of USA Broadcasting in Los Angeles. During his tenure there, he launched independent stations in such major markets as Dallas, Atlanta and Boston on behalf of USA. Before USA, Mr. Feldman served 16 years at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles. He first joined KCOP in 1983 as general sales manager, and in 1987 he was promoted to VP and station manager. He became president and general manager of KCOP in 1993.
NATPE was, however, a new challenge. Mr. Feldman walked into a situation in which several distributors were absent from the convention floor for two years. In fact, in New Orleans last year, distributors were scattered around the city. This year will see a return to the floor by some of those companies, including NBC Enterprises, Sony, Universal and King World.
Mr. Feldman admits that pleasing everyone has been a difficult task.
“I was surprised at people’s anger toward NATPE, as if the organization somehow created this difficult economic environment,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is play the hand we’ve been dealt. If the majors decide this year’s conference ultimately works for them, then we will move forward. If everybody doesn’t want to be on the floor, then we will be forced to find a location where we can have a convention center and hotel close by.”