Headlined by hacks and flacks—Microsoft's Bill Gates and now-famed Pentagon mouthpiece Torie Clark—the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's annual convention (June 8-11) is expected to draw about the same number of attendees as last year's show.
Although they refused to release any details, NCTA executives said that registrations for this year's National Show seemed to be on the same pace as last year.
Like other media trade shows, the National Show has been hammered during the past few years as the economy slumped and industry consolidation prompted cable operators, networks and equipment companies to slice the number of attendees and amount of exhibition space leased.
According to NCTA President Robert Sachs, for this year's show in Chicago, "roughly, we are tracking with last year." Last year's show in New Orleans drew 17,000 attendees, down 30% from the 24,000 at the 2001 convention in Chicago. Similarly, the roughly 200 exhibitors will match the 2002 total, but the association would not say how much floor space has been leased.
In its efforts to accommodate companies reluctant to spend $100,000-$300,000 on a booth, the NCTA has signed 16 cable networks—including BET, Oxygen, Comedy Central, HBO and HSN—to cheaper executive suites on one corner of the show floor.