NATPE eyes cut of syndication action

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The National Association of Television Programming Executives was faced with
getting largely left out of the syndication action come January, with so many
distributors set to leave the convention floor.

But NATPE executives said they want to act as a coordinator for the departing
studios, many of which will be at the Venetian Hotel.

NATPE chair Jon Mandel insisted that these actions were in response to
syndicators asking, 'Can you help organize the chaos?' But some insiders pointed
out that NATPE, acting as a liaison, might be able to make up for some lost
revenue it would have gotten if the syndicators had taken out floor space.

At a meeting Wednesday, NATPE leaders will let syndication executives know
that they will be working on setting up a centralized shuttle service between
the convention hall and the Venetian for attendees. Also, NATPE will include a
listing of syndicator hotel-suite locations in its official convention booklets.
There'll also likely be a NATPE information desk inside the Venetian.

The escalating retaliation in Afghanistan is giving lots of people travel
jitters, but NATPE is serious about going on as planned, seeing its convention
as the very first TV trade event that will happen after Sept. 11, Mandel
said.

'We've been thrust into the role of being a unifying force,' he added, so it
makes it that much more important that NATPE goers can easily get from the
convention hall to the syndicators and vice versa.

On Tuesday, NATPE executives talked about the future of their organization.
With nine syndicators so far set to move off the floor in 2002, Mandel realizes
that NATPE needs to evolve to fit the needs of its members.

'Who knows if there'll be a floor?' for upcoming conventions, he
acknowledged, so NATPE needs to figure out how best to stay relevant.

Ideas that were brainstormed included combining several related trade events
-- such as Promax/BDA, the Radio-Television News Directors Association's show
and NATPE -- into one weeklong conference.

Similar to NATPE, Promax/BDA has recently been dealing with falloffs in
attendance from the syndication arena. The RTNDA convention -- which was
canceled due to the Sept. 11 events -- had once considered signing on with NATPE
2002. But the RTNDA decided that it wouldn't have enough time to effectively
prepare.

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