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Chairman pledges to keep confab energized

Kelly to contend with rival SNTA, widespread cost-cutting

Serving as senior VP/global client services director for Universal McCann while sitting on the boards of NATPE, the Intl. Radio and Television Society and the National Advertising Review Board would be enough to keep anyone busy, but Margaret “Peggy” Kelly has a new goal in mind.

Kelly, who will begin a one-year term as NATPE chairwoman at the end of the confab replacing Tony Vinciquerra, says she is well prepared to devote her time and energy to the role.

“Since I have been a part of the NATPE board (she just finished a stint as first vice chair), this was a natural progression for me,” Kelly tells Variety.

“And my goal will be to strengthen and move the organization forward. NATPE is not just about syndication; it’s also a forum for stations, advertisers, cable, international business, independent producers and other media content professionals.

“The challenge is to keep NATPE at the center of the global TV industry at a time where cost-cutting remains the unfortunate reality of the business.”

Unlike the salad days of NATPE, when syndicators were known for their overindulgence, the NATPE of today is marred by uncertainty.

Major syndicators have opted for less expensive hotel suites instead of once-extravagant exhibition floor booths and attendance levels remain down.

Competition from SNTA

Shopping for new syndie programming is no longer a priority for attendees, smaller global businesses will have a greater presence on the convention floor and rival SNTA (Syndicated Network Television Assn.) is hosting its own advertiser gathering in February in New York.

“We all have to remember that changing times is a reflection of every industry, not just broadcasting, and we realize that the syndication-specific NATPE of yesteryear is now the more global NATPE that we see today,” says Kelly.

The optimistic Kelly sees an important future role for NATPE and denies rumors of the confab’s impending demise.

“NATPE is all about networking, educating, sharing ideas and working in a team effort on a year-round basis. It’s about finding ways of doing business,” notes Kelly. “Instead of walking away or assuming there is no longer a need for an annual gathering, we as an industry need to focus on ways to find new opportunities. If I didn’t believe in NATPE, I wouldn’t have accepted this opportunity. My main responsibility is to remind the industry of the importance of this organization.”

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