Ex-Promax/BDA Boss Marches On

Jun 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Former Promax/BDA CEO Jim Chabin is again a free agent, ready for the next step in a career that has passed through the revolving doors of two of television’s biggest professional organizations.
Mr. Chabin last week finalized an out from his Promax/BDA contract, ending a 4½-year run atop the organization. The finale came after Mr. Chabin did a stint in the purgatory of administrative leave, where he was consigned after disagreements with the body’s board.
Few expect Mr. Chabin to stay still for long. Both friends and adversaries have a common take on the man.
“He’s a guy who gets a vision and makes it happen no matter what stands in his way; that’s a good thing if you are behind him, a bad thing if you’re the one trying to slow him down,” said one board member of Promax/BDA.
Neither Mr. Chabin nor Promax/BDA would comment on the terms of his separation from the organization.
The man who began his career in show business at age 16 as a radio DJ in Kansas City and marked off stints in marketing at CBS Television Stations, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and E! Entertainment Television doesn’t have immediate plans.
“I’ll be looking for something out there that will probably be a little less broad in responsibility and more entrepreneurial,” Mr. Chabin said in an interview with TelevisionWeek last week.
The two-time head of the television marketers organization and ex-president and chief operating officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has never been one to back down from a challenge.
During his first turn at Promax/BDA from 1992 to 1999, Mr. Chabin guided the association into the digital age. This included directing the rebranding of Promax’s predecessor, the Broadcast Promotion and Marketing Executives, with the name “Promax” in 1993 and incorporating talent from the ranks of digital cable, satellite and Web promotion executives.
Traditional broadcast executives frowned upon the move, but Mr. Chabin’s revamp proved he had perceived the approach of the current multiplatform universe. He also brought cable executives into the fold.
When Chris Moseley, who was recently named senior VP of marketing at History Channel (see story, page 6), was an executive at Discovery, Mr. Chabin proposed to the various members of the board that she take a seat as the first cable network board member.
“The idea was really controversial. In fact when I first came to the meeting, more than one person referred to me as coming from the dark side,” said Ms. Moseley, who earlier in her career served as a broadcast station affiliate promotion manager. “Now everyone would consider it ridiculous not to have us on the board. Jim was the person who had the vision of the big picture and made it happen despite the resistance we felt.”
Ms. Moseley later became the first chair at Promax to come from a cable outlet. She noted that Mr. Chabin faced a similar uphill battle when he proposed international expansion for Promax.
Mr. Chabin now says that international component earns millions of dollars for the nonprofit organization.
“Jim is a big thinker and is always ahead of the curve about how the marketplace is changing and what has to be done to position for the future,” Ms. Moseley said. “Look at the success of MI6. He tapped a huge segment of the industry that doesn’t have an organization that can share best practices. That’s forward thinking.”
The Ups and Downs
After quadrupling revenue at Promax/BDA during his first stint there, Mr. Chabin left to lead the television academy. He left ATAS in 2002, and within months was hired back at Promax/BDA, which had suffered a revenue slump in his absence.
He set about refilling the organization’s coffers by approaching traditional members who had drifted away, and by seeking new revenue sources. His initiatives included fostering international chapters that could generate funds, as well as bringing overseas television executives to Promax/BDA’s events.
Despite the success of Mr. Chabin’s play for international membership and the creation of the MI6 conference, those efforts may have hastened his departure.
On the international side, sources said there was concern at Promax/BDA about Mr. Chabin’s extensive world travel. Mr. Chabin has said he needed to travel the globe to establish new beachheads and pump up the annual meeting, which begins this week in New York.
Those same sources also said that board members were unhappy with the amount of resources, both financial and physical, devoted to the MI6 conference, and worried that placing MI6 so close to June’s Promax conference could overstrain the organization.
Those tensions came to a boil after internal reviews uncovered financial difficulties at the organization. Mr. Chabin was placed on administrative leave in February. He entered arbitration with Promax/BDA to reach a settlement on his contract, which still had two years remaining.
Numerous Promax/BDA members continue to credit Mr. Chabin with reviving an organization on the cusp of collapse when he returned for his second stint in 2002. This week’s conference in New York will boast record attendance, recent highs on memberships and sponsorships, and an appearance by former President Clinton.
“This is a guy who really puts the industry and what we do first and foremost,” said Frank Radice, executive VP of the NBC Agency. “Jim’s ideas are always some of the most forward thinking ideas out there, and he’s a facilitator at bringing minds together and making them partners.
“But of all the times I remember hanging out with Jim, and talking about seriousness of what we do, I remember doing it in Singapore. We were there smoking big fat cigars, talking business. That’s the penultimate experience with Jim — friendly, warm, comfortable and exotic.”

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)