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CAB Trims Staff, TVB Cancels '09 Confab

 The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) laid off two of its 17 employees, the organization's president Sean Cunningham said today, in part because the CAB's role has changed over the years, and because it's being mindful of a soft economy.

Starting two years ago, the CAB began adding speakers and panels to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention and that served as a substitute for local cable ad sales conference it once held separately. In addition, when Cunningham came to the CAB in 2003, he discontinued its national conference and instead put money into hiring salespeople. The group represents both cable operators and cable programmers.

"We're going into 2009 with a fundamentally different model" than existed when CAB had conferences, Cunningham said. But he didn't want to attribute the layoffs to a downturn in ad sales. "There is some context in that local TV is entering a low growth, slow growth mode," but Cunningham insisted any move to cut expenses was more a function of the changing role of the CAB.

According to an IRS filing, the association's annual revenue was $5.9 million in 2007, the most recent year for which there are figures.

Also, the CAB's broadcast counterpart, the Television Bureau of Advertising ( TVB) said it would not hold its spring conference in 2009 in conjunction with the New York auto show at the Javits Convention Center in New York. The decision was actually made last May, because TVB President Chris Rohrs was sensing some pressure on broadcasters' T&E budgets. (The TVB conference costs between $500-$700 to attend.) As the economy has gotten worse, the decision seems even better, a spokesman said.  

TVB will likely fortify its annual fall forecast, held shortly after Labor Day from a half day to a full day, and probably charge admission.