NATPE nixes 2004 huddle

TV exex: No convention for New Orleans

NEW YORK — The National Assn. of TV Program Executives has canceled its annual convention scheduled for New Orleans in 2004.

Decision comes as the result of a report, put together by a task force of NATPE officials, that concludes the TV biz has changed so much in the past couple of years the association must come up with new ideas for a confab “that will best serve the interests of our membership,” said Bruce Johansen, president and CEO of NATPE, in a statement.

Because of commitments to the Ernest N. MorialConvention Center in New Orleans as well as to various hotels in the city, NATPE will go ahead with its planned convention next year, slated for Jan. 20-23.

But NATPE will now have to persuade distributors to operate out of the convention in 2003 instead of off-site, as they did during the 2002 NATPE in Las Vegas.

The 2002 NATPE convocation wound up lose-lose: The convention floor was dramatically underpopulated, and the Venetian Hotel, where most distributors set up shop, became almost impossible to navigate because of elevator gridlock.

For 2003, NATPE will offer distributors booths of various sizes and configurations on the convention floor — at a cost that’s comparable to the price of a hotel suite.

And NATPE said it will make it easy for distributors to rent everything from modular booths and TV monitors to food and furniture by serving as a clearinghouse, relieving distribs of the burden of dealing with seven or eight different vendors.