NATPE bets on Vegas as home

Org considering date changes

Vegas, baby, Vegas — it’s the future of NATPE.

The TV org designated Sin City the permanent future home for its annual confab, announced updates on how January’s confab is taking shape and defined who NATPE’s constituents are, following its board of directors meeting Thursday.

The next edition of the org’s annual conference will take place Jan. 20-23 in New Orleans.

Beyond that, the org has negotiated out of most of its further commitments and is seeking space for more intimate gatherings in Las Vegas.

Likeliest candidates to host NATPE in 2004 and beyond are Las Vegas resort hotels, such as the Venetian, MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay, which could house the entire conference population and still provide a reduced amount of exhibition space.

May change sked

Traditionally the confab is held in January. However, NATPE prexy-CEO Bruce Johansen said the org still is considering mounting the event during other times of year.

For the January edition in New Orleans, most traditional syndicators, whose elaborate, multi-million dollar booths of the past previously were the cornerstones of the exhibition floor, will set up in hotel suites, much like they did this year.

This time around, NATPE is helping to facilitate the suite setups, which will be located in such New Orleans hotels as the Ritz, the Windsor Court, the Marriott, the Hilton and the Fairmont.

‘Hollywood Plaza’

Several studios also will participate in a new floor feature called the “Hollywood Plaza.” The area will be stationed at the center of the exhib floor, featuring reps from each studio who will provide walk-up service.

Adjacent to that will be the “Buyers Lounge,” designated space for buyers who prefer to have meetings with distributors on the floor, rather than hauling to various hotels.

In addition, Fox will hold an affiliates event during January’s meeting.

Fox Networks Group prexy-CEO Tony Vinciquerra, who also serves as NATPE chairman, said NATPE is in fact talking to all the major webs about holding some sort of affil meeting in New Orleans in January.

It’s all part of the org’s move to rep as many parts of the ever-changing TV programming biz as possible, Johansen and Vinciquerra said. To that end, domestic syndicators, TV station groups, international TV players and advertisers will be seen as having equal voices in where the org and its confab is going.

“Our goal for January’s conference is to transition the conference from where it had been in the past to where it’s going in the future,” Vinciquerra said.

And that transition will continue as the business changes.

Deregulation to ‘rock’ biz

“The omnibus deregulation that’s under way is going to rock the business,” Vinciquerra said. “How the business evolves will affect how NATPE evolves.”

Vinciquera is referring to the fact that, in a move that could redefine the broadcast biz and allow big media congloms to begin gobbling up newspapers, radio stations and TV outlets to their heart’s delight, the Federal Communications Commission has begun reviewing whether to ease the country’s most significant ownership rules (Daily Variety, Sept. 13). There’s also a chance the FCC could relax a rule blocking one company from owning two major broadcast nets, although of all the regs in the offing, this one is the least likely to be tossed.

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