NATPE’s Feldman Looks on the Bright Side

Dec 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Despite the haggard economy, the National Association of Television Program Executives’ annual conference will continue moving forward as if economic times were robust, NATPE’s President-CEO Rick Feldman said today.
“We don’t want to put our head in the sand. The television industry is not going to end,” he said.
Speaking Tuesday on a conference call to members of the media, along with NATPE co-chair Kevin Beggs, Mr. Feldman said the event, scheduled for Jan. 26-29 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, will try to produce the most complete show that it can with the difficult financial times surrounding it and “hope for the best.”
Financial concerns hamstrung the organization’s original plan for Monday, the first day of the conference, which included a business seminar co-sponsored by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. The seminar would have carried a separate registration fee.
Mr. Feldman said tentative plans are in place to have the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences prepare a Monday presentation, as a large amount of international buyers arrive over the weekend to the conference. He said he’s also in talks with studios to screen an unaired midseason show for attendees.
Economics are at the forefront of NATPE and its conference-goers’ concerns. Mr. Feldman said he’s been working with the Mandalay Bay to remain flexible on its room rates for attendees, as well as talking with distributors about the size and scope of their booths, as sellers want to “avoid building the Taj Mahal.”
“Everyone is trying to do the smart thing” with how they spend their money, he said.
In terms of attendance, Mr. Feldman said he always wants to try to grow the conference, but he’s realistic about a possible dip in conference-goers.
“We certainly don’t expect attendance will be as great as it was in years past,” he said. But he said the conference is not looking to scale back.
He didn’t want to say what percentage decline he was anticipating, but he remained upbeat that attendees might become a little more confident about the economy in January, meaning a spike in late registration.
A majority of the major distribution studios will be in attendance at the convention, with CBS Television Distribution’s domestic arm returning to the convention floor this year.
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has opted to deal exclusively in the suites at the Mandalay Bay. The domestic side of Sony Pictures Television will continue for the second straight year to sit out NATPE, while its international arm will be on the floor.
Mr. Feldman stressed the growth of NATPE during the call, calling attention to the expanded floor plan of the show, a demo kitchen, restaurant and lounge on the floor of the convention and a digital demonstration theater. He said the mantra of this year’s NATPE is “Content, commerce, connections.”
Looking toward the future, the NATPE conference is contractually obligated to the Mandalay Bay until 2010. After that, Mr. Feldman said discussions are ongoing, but he said Las Vegas probably will remain the site of NATPE due to the ease of access and resources of the city.


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