NATPE smooths way

Org, distribs meet to discuss confab logistics

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The National Assn. of Television Program Executives will meet today with domestic syndicators who have opted out of their traditional, elaborate exhib-floor booths during the annual NATPE confab in January.

NATPE organizers will meet with staffers of the distributors who coordinate their companies’ NATPE presence to discuss ways they can work together to make convention-going as logistically simple as possible.

Among the issues to be discussed is transportation between the Las Vegas Convention Center, where NATPE will be held Jan. 21-24, and area hotels, where many distributors will set up meeting space in lieu of exhib floor booths. NATPE chairman Jon Mandel said NATPE-sponsored transportation is “absolutely” a possibility.

Columbia TriStar TV Distribution’s decision last week not to exhibit brought to nine the number of domestic TV distribs forgoing NATPE floor space. Most distributors instead will set up meeting space at the Venetian Hotel on the Strip or at other area hotels. A number of distributors are said to be looking at space at the Bellagio.

NBC Enterprises, Tribune Entertainment and FremantleMedia are among the few domestic distributors that have not said for sure they’re moving off the floor. All three are mulling their options.

Following a NATPE board meeting Tuesday, Mandel said today’s gathering would be a “worker-bee meeting.”

Focus on experience

“NATPE is a nonprofit organization, and we’re here to be relevant and serve the entire industry,” Mandel said. “We’re obligated to make the experience as smooth and easy as we can for everyone who sets foot in Las Vegas for the event,” he added.

“We’re really going to focus on how to make this a positive experience for attendees. Clearly the best way is to unify,” NATPE prexy-CEO Bruce Johansen said.

NATPE also will meet early next month with the heads of the domestic and international TV distributors it serves to further discuss the org and its annual convention.

“Nobody has said they don’t want NATPE or that they don’t want to be part of it or its educational foundation. They have said it’s a tough economic time, and they can’t support NATPE financially right now the way they have in the past,” Johansen said. “We’re meeting with them, just as we’re meeting with other constituencies of NATPE, including advertisers, stations and everyone else we serve.”

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