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NATPE picks up steam in Miami

Locale change, focus on overseas, Latin markets good for biz

Goodbye Vegas, hello Miami. NATPE’s annual convention is headed to the Sunshine State to court the Latin market and give the confab a much-needed shot in the arm.

Though attendance flagged over recent editions of the syndie TV trade show, NATPE prexy and CEO Rick Feldman says that the move has reinvigorated registration to the point that the sign-up rate is “pacing double where it was last year.”

In the days leading up to the show, which runs Jan. 24-26, more than 235 TV orgs had reserved booth space at the recently renovated Fontainebleau hotel — up considerably from the 201 who signed on last year at the Mandalay Bay.

“For Europeans, the opportunity to come to Miami, to South Beach in the heart of winter — there are worse things,” says Shine Intl.’s Chris Grant, a NATPE board member.

The show has a renewed overseas focus as well, with many seeing Miami as an opportunity for closer contact with the European and South American markets, both of which find it easier to travel to Florida than Nevada.

Feldman says he’s looking to the international market to set the pace. “Various parts of the world are into or out of recessions at different times,” he reasons. “When you look at markets that are really growing digitally by leaps and bounds, you see countries like Brazil that have a nice middle class and are growing very well. Reed Midem (owner of MIP and Mipcom, whose parent company publishes Variety) has nice markets in Europe, but they don’t have as many Latins.”

Moving to Miami won’t return NATPE to its glory days, notes NBC Universal Domestic TV distribution prexy Barry Wallach, who also sits on the board, but he adds that “everybody’s enthused and excited, and I think the change of venue is going to be good.”

Wallach says he sees several factors contributing to renewed syndie TV interest. There’s been a rebound in ad sales, for example, along with fresh interest in domestic station schedules now that the departure of “Oprah” has left gaps that need to be filled. “That (perception) is not necessarily real,” Wallach cautions. “A lot of those holes are spoken for. But who knows how long they’ll be spoken for?”

Venue change or not, the exec says NATPE remains a must-attend event. “You can’t see dozens of clients in 72 hours anywhere else,” he says.

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