High cost, badges among few gripes as NATPE wraps

It turned out to be an unusually smooth NATPE for organizers as the 30th annual conference wrapped with a minimum of bickering at its distributors meeting yesterday, coupled with the news that registration had swelled to a new record of 10,495.

“This is probably the biggest and best conference we’ve ever had,” said outgoing National Assn. of Television Program Executives president Phil Corvo.

“The attitude and the enthusiasm is really up,” he noted, following two down years in the business.

“They’ll go back to their place of business feeling better that they have come.”

“In all my years I’ve never heard as few complaints from the distribution community,” said Paramount Television Group president Steve Goldman, who represents distributors within NATPE’s executive committee.

The biggest gripe, he said, was the high cost of putting on the convention in San Francisco. That won’t be a problem in the future, however, as the conference heads to Miami and then Las Vegas for two years before settling back in New Orleans through the year 2000.

The meetings also marked the end of what one pundit dubbed the “Saban String, ” to which NATPE credentials were attached. Attendees, now resembling tailors, had their badges flopping around so much as they sauntered about that one wasn’t ever quite sure if they weren’t all employed by Genesis Entertainment, which took out an ad on the badge’s flip side.

And probably they were too embarrassed to ask, creating some awkward moments for NATPE participants needing to “meet and greet” and otherwise network.

At the meeting, which was closed to the press, Goldman reportedly threw down his badge and said, “No more.” Next year NATPE will return to traditional clip-on badges.

Genesis Entertainment heads Gary Gannaway and Wayne Lepoff were said to be unhappy with the decision, maintaining that they’ve been doing it for years at other conventions while complaining that big companies had huge ads splashed all over the Moscone Center.

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