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Strike overshadows NATPE confab

Fallout hovers over proceedings

As the National Assn. of Television Program Executives prepares for its annual confab in Las Vegas, the fallout from the writers strike clouds the proceedings.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, NATPE president-CEO Rick Feldman said it’s a bit “too early to tell” how the scribe shutdown will affect the conference, scheduled for Jan. 28-31 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

“People are distracted by the strike and don’t know where they’ll be at the end of January,” Feldman said. “They’re saying they don’t know how long this is going to go, and we can’t commit right now. It’s not good for the business and not an easy time.”

Despite the black clouds, Feldman reiterated that, as of right now, attendance figures are on par with last year’s conference — with the admission that half of those who attend register after Jan. 1 — and that NATPE is the place to be for those who want to sell their programs.

“People are coming to NATPE to monetize their content,” he said. “We’ve created an environment where people can meet and greet, and buy and sell.”

Feldman was also quick to point out that NATPE is now completely focused on the digital-content business and not so much on traditional syndie sales that dominated the conference for years.

“We are not into old media vs. new media,” he said. “Everything is digital and organically strung together.”

As for those major players, Warner Bros. Domestic TV, which was situated in the Mandalay Bay suites last year, will be returning to the floor along with its international division. CBS Intl. and NBC Universal will remain on the floor, while Disney-ABC domestic stays in the suites. CBS domestic and Sony domestic will not attend.

Confab’s keynote address will come from NBC Universal honcho Jeff Zucker on Jan. 29. Panel and session participants over the three-day event will include Michael Eisner, Cecile Frot-Coutaz of FremantleMedia and Garth Ancier of BBC Worldwide America.

William Morris VP Mark Itkin, Warner Bros. TV prexy Peter Roth, CBS Paramount entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem and former NBC U chief Bob Wright will receive the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards on Jan. 28.

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