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Pay TV confab splits over format dispute

Ex-partners to host rival Brazil trade shows

RIO DE JANEIRO — Organizers of rival trade shows are waging an open war to attract pay TV execs and exhibitors to what each group hopes will be the leading industry confab.

For the past three years, the Brazilian Pay-TV and Telecom Assn. (ABTA) and local event producer Grupo BrasilRio have jointly produced a single pay TV trade show, gathering operators and programmers. But a dispute over the format led to a split, and now each hosts an event.

But with just over 3 million pay TV subs, Brazil isn’t large enough to support two shows, analysts and execs agree, and they expect one will fold or be taken over by one of the local big telecom fairs.

1997 linkup

The ABTA first hired BrasilRio in 1997 to organize, market and promote its annual show. ABTA ’99 attracted 376 exhibitors and about 20,000 visitors, said BrasilRio director Marco Antonio Mastrandonakis.

The contract expired last year and the newly elected ABTA board chose not to renew it as members were unhappy with the high costs of booths at last year’s show and with the preponderance of nonindustry visitors, who were mostly out to collect exhibs’ freebies, according to Alvaro Pacheco, ABTA’s social director.

This year’s streamlined ABTA confab will be held Sept. 11-13 at the Transamerica Hotel in Sao Paolo. Organized by U.S. firm Advanstar, ABTA 2000 is emphasizing seminars and private meetings.

Exhib area is limited to about 3,900 square feet (vs. about 18,000 square feet last year), and the square-foot price has dropped almost in half to about $42 from roughly $68, Pacheco said.

Attendance will be limited to industry pros.

“We plan to have an event with a format similar to the programming shows in the States, such as NATPE,” Pacheco said.

Deregulation slant

BrasilRio aims to woo cablers and other pay TV execs, with a focus on deregulation in the sector in 2002, when pay TV operators will be allowed to offer telco services.

It will hold Ecomidias Telelink 2000 on Sept. 25-27 at the Intl. Trade Market in Sao Paulo.

BrasilRio has expanded the show’s parameters, bringing in Internet equipment as we;; as content suppliers and telecom operators, and merging with Ecomidias, a broadcast conference.

“The market needed an event on connectivity,” said Mastrandonakis.

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