Workshops, seminars raise learning curve

High-def TV, Web syndication on agenda

HOLLYWOOD — Keeping up with the changes brought on by convergence is a daunting task, but one that should be made a little easier by the National Assn. of Television Program Executive’s lineup of panels, workshops and seminars.

The annual conference’s panels have been increasingly dominated by new media and its impact on TV, and this year is no exception as crash courses and primers on interactive and high-definition TV, syndication on the Web, streaming media and celebrity branding are on the agenda.

Technology is a hot topic this year, and the panels give attendees a chance to familiarize themselves with equipment and formats.

Conrad Denke, president of American Production Services, wants a panel he will be on about high-definition TV post-production to help broadcasters feel more at ease with the process.

“There’s a lot of superstition and fear about the expense of posting in high def,” he says. “My personal goal is to disperse some of that.”

This confusion, he says, has created an unwarranted resistance to high definition. “We want to expose people to it and talk about the process. Panels are an effective way to get that kind of information out.”

Business matters and more established technology will be far from ignored. Susan Cohen-Dickler, chairman of Banyan Prods., will speak at a panel on producing quality programs for cable on a budget.

Banyan produces shows for the Learning Channel such as “A Wedding Story” and “A Baby Story,” “Home Matters” for Discovery, “Epicurious” and “Food Fantasy” for Food Network, and “Renovating” for HGTV.

Successful programming needs a strong business infrastructure to support the creative aspects of a show, she says. It’s also vital to make sure that producer and client are in complete agreement on what the program will be like.

“The earlier and more collaborative you are with the client, the better,” Cohen-Dickler says.

Once a show is up and running, the 25% rule kicks in, she says. “The first year will take 25% more time and money than the second year.”

Sharing such success stories and strategies is one of the great appeals of NATPE, according to Cohen-Dickler. “It’s the kind of panel I’d like to go to if I wasn’t on it.”

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