U TV’s Meidel named NATPE ’97 chairman

Universal Television Group chairman Greg Meidel Wednesday was named 1997 NATPE chairman, and he quickly used the occasion to defend the trade show against criticism that its value is eroding.

“King World did $100 million-plus in business yesterday,” Meidel said, referring to Tuesday’s renewals of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” on three major station groups.

“And Columbia cleared ‘Vibe’ in 50% of the country in one place on one day,” he claimed. “For all those critics who say business isn’t good, it’s not worth coming to NATPE, I think they’re wrong.”

Meidel has been Universal TV’s chairman since last January, moving from president of Twentieth Television.

NATPE president Bruce Johansen said the selection of Meidel “represents the new NATPE, the new direction we’re taking” to enlist major studio support. This move comes despite threats of a diminished presence from Twentieth, the complete absence of MGM and merger-related fallout from the loss of formerly independent syndicators like Multimedia, New World and Turner Program Services.

Despite all that, Johansen said 670 NATPE exhibitors booked a record 400,000 square feet of space at the Ernest Morial Convention Center, and 87 countries are represented, up from 77 last year in Las Vegas.

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