Gary Lico is an independent guy, and I appreciate that. In fact, it was his commentary about NATPE two years ago that prompted me to call him to solicit his opinions even before I got the job as NATPE president. We have often discussed the issues below privately over the past two years; his Airtime in the Feb. 14 edition [“NATPE Needs Independent Voices,” page 46] causes me to respond in public to comments that miss the mark.
The independent voice is well- regarded and represented at NATPE, and this has been the case since the association was founded. Witness independent companies such as Granada America (Steve Davis and Paul Jackson), DIC (Andy Heyward), CHUM (Jay Switzer) and even a major non-aligned content provider in Sony (John Weiser) represented on our board.
At the convention, we featured many independent voices on panels and sessions, including producers like Bill Sanders, Byron Allen, B.S. Hurst, Eric Schotz, David Salzman, Kevin Beggs, Phil Gurin, Gary Rosenthal, David Garfinkle and Scott Sternberg. We provided an entire afternoon of Boot Camp sessions catering to independent producers in preparation for Boot Camp in Los Angeles in July. We celebrate and highlight content producers and distributors large and small.
The 4,000-square-foot NATPE Networking Lounge, which Gary says is too small, is 4,000 square feet larger than any lounge on the NATPE floor prior to its introduction last year. It is meant for resting and schmoozing, not to set up shop. We need to work on that for '06, I agree.
The lounge is the size we can afford. If Gary wants to sponsor a bigger one in 2006, we would love that if we have the space for it.
On the floor, smaller independent companies out-number majors 20 to 1. It is easy to see that not everyone can find a place next to a major. Indies with booths were not “relegated to the outskirts” as they composed most of the gross floor space. The majors have every right to request where they want to be, and we do everything we can to accommodate them. They have been major contributors to this organization, and their support is essential to a vibrant NATPE where all companies can benefit.
Along with Nick Orfanopoulos, our senior vice president of conference operations and sales, I keep in touch year-round with dozens of our independent producer and distributor clients, talking to them and soliciting their opinions.
NATPE is a non-profit membership organization. We aim to please. We try very hard to give our clients what they request and attempt to make everyone happy. Post-convention buzz supported our efforts, and we will do even better in '06.