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NATPE Wired for Business

January show to focus on digital delivery 11/24/2006 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Having a magazine editor deliver the keynote address at the 2007
National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) convention
might seem a bit strange. But association President/CEO Rick Feldman says

that the choice of Chris Anderson, editor in chief at tech bible
Wired, reflects the increasing importance of content
delivery through new technologies.

“It is a mini-statement about where NATPE is going and where the
business is going,” Feldman says. “The ice is definitely melting, and
everyone knows the world will look a lot different in a few years.”

The giant TV-content convention, slated for Jan. 15-18 at the Mandalay
Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, will carry the theme “Evolve and
Prosper.” Feldman says the panel discussions will reflect the rapidly
changing nature of the business. “It was never an easy business, but the
playbook was kind of simple,” he says. “Now the playbook is a lot more
complicated.”

With the rules changing so quickly, Feldman adds, lining up panel topics
and speakers a few months out is a growing challenge. Someone scheduled for the
panel in November may not have their job come show time—as with former Fox
digital chief Ross Levinsohn, who recently left his position. But Feldman sees
that as an opportunity for candor. “It's always nice to use people when
they are no longer tied to their company,” he believes. “They tend to open
up a little more.”

The timing also seems to be favorable for another panel: a chat with Fox
reality guru Mike Darnell, moderated by Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman.
Darnell is the man behind Fox's cancelled O.J. Simpson special. Feldman says
he won't permit a spin-heavy event: “I am going to talk to Preston and make
sure he doesn't avoid the tough questions.”

What to look for

It promises to be a busy four days. The show kicks off Monday, Jan. 15,
with the NATPE Mobile++ event, which is produced by Achilles Media and
sponsored by InfoSpace. Although the convention is geared toward new media,
Feldman says the mobile-video event might not be here for the long term.

“It seems that mobile has taken somewhat of a backseat,” he says.
“There is more talk about the convergence of television and the
Internet.”

Also on Monday, NATPE's educational foundation hosts a seminar for
university professors, which is open to international participants for the
first time.

Monday evening, producers Stephen Cannell, Harry Friedman and Anthony
Zuiker and NBC Universal executive Bonnie Hammer receive Brandon Tartikoff
Legacy Awards, sponsored by B&C,
Multichannel News and Variety.

Among other events is a Wednesday-night roast of Dick Robertson, who
recently retired as Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution president to
become senior advisor to the Warner Bros. Television Group.

Last year's gathering was memorable for the surprise announcement that
The WB and UPN would be shuttered and replaced with The CW network, and NATPE
executives expect some news to break this year as well—particularly in the
broadband channel space.

“Autopilot” grounded

Show registration in all areas is running ahead of last year. Feldman,
who will be attending his 30th NATPE conference, says organizers have expanded
the selling time on the floor for an hour on Wednesday and Thursday.

He looks forward to getting attendees up to speed on the latest content
trends. After a long period in which the industry was on “auto­pilot,”
it's now anything but.

“We are rewriting what we do every year,” says Feldman. “It's
not easy, but it's fun.”

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