Like Las Vegas packaged tours, a budget plan will be offered for NATPE 2004, slated for two months from now. It will have two admission levels: the $200 VIP Buyer Membership and a $150 all-inclusive rate for unemployed TV executives—reflecting the consolidation of the industry.
President and CEO Rick Feldman doesn't expect NATPE 2004 to make money, but the gathering has been subsidized before—including last year, when attendance fell to around 7,000.
Feldman is trying to build a new momentum. "We want people to come out of this NATPE feeling like it was a worthwhile endeavor," he said last week at a morning press breakfast. "If they feel that it is, then they will be willing to pay fair-market price to attend next year."
This year's NATPE will feature a session titled "Loose Cannons: They Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say," with Roger King, CEO of King World; talk-show host Jerry Springer; Mark Cuban, president of HDNet; and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Feldman has persuaded MGM, Sony, NBC Enterprises, King World, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and Universal Domestic Television to return to the NATPE show floor. Paramount, Buena Vista and Warner Bros. will stay in hotel suites.
NATPE said last year, when the gathering was in New Orleans, that Las Vegas would be its new permanent convention city, but Feldman backed away from that a bit last week, suggesting that he would listen to better deals.