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Big Easy losing NATPE

NATPE will permanently move to a Las Vegas hotel after the 2003 show in New Orleans on Jan. 20-23, organizers said last week, an indicator of how much consolidation has changed the syndication landscape in just a few years.

Also last week, the Syndicated Network Television Association, funded by major studios, confirmed plans to hold a winter show in New York for advertisers and buyers, which could further cut into NATPE's roster of exhibitors and attendees. The SNTA show is set for the New York Sheraton Feb. 26 .

Although this year's NATPE conference saw major syndicators defect from the floor, next year all major companies plan to take part in what NATPE is calling the "Hollywood Plaza" and the "Buyer's Lounge," said NATPE President and CEO Bruce Johansen last week. The new concept will provide syndicators with kiosks where they can meet buyers and other executives, and the kiosks will be significantly less expensive than the large booths that used to be on the NATPE floor. Johansen says companies still will have hotel suites for private meetings, but they also can use the Buyer's Lounge to do deals.

TV stations seem to be coming back to NATPE, with Fox planning to host an affiliate event in New Orleans that will coincide with NATPE.

"With regard to cost considerations and convenience, we really do prefer Las Vegas," Johansen said. "Getting to New Orleans is very difficult for people coming internationally," and, more and more, NATPE's core attendees are international visitors.

The new conference format, which starts in 2004, will take place in one of Las Vegas's hotels and still will have an exhibition space, but it will be less elaborate.

Meanwhile, after months of deliberations, the Syndicated Network Television Association will go ahead with a new conference in New York. SNTA president Gene DeWitt confirmed the date for the show.

"It was really a decision that was driven by our customers," said DeWitt. He said the discussion on a separate conference started this year after what he characterized as a light turnout at NATPE among advertisers and media buyers.

They were NATPE no-shows, according to feedback from the advertiser community, "because it wasn't in New York and because it was too early in the year," DeWitt said. "If you're selling something and your customers tell you they're not going to come to your sales pitch unless you hold it in a different place and a different time, you better listen to them."