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Editorial: Miami Heat

When the National Association of Television Program Executives’ annual confab decided to take its talent to South Beach this year, the industry scratched its head a bit. Anchored to Las Vegas hotels in recent years, organization chief Phil Feldman (if Regis says that’s your name, Rick, so do we) decided to shake things up and move the event this year.

While comparing the event to the good old days in this era of consolidation and everything else is an exercise in futility, even by the new metrics, NATPE needed a jump start.

But the move to Miami was undoubtedly a risk. Would the interest the shift would drum up in international circles (namely Latin America), and perhaps increased traffic from New York, offset the Los Angeles contingent who might not want to make the schlep all the way to Miami?

But after last week’s event at the Fontainebleau Resort in South Beach, we are willing to call the move a success. Yes we know, the lines for the elevators were so long that when you got to the front you half-expected to either be handed bread and toilet paper or the chance to snatch up a great rent-controlled apartment. But that can be fixed.

The numbers NATPE released last week had overall attendance up 22 percent from last year, definitely spurred by more people from New York and across our borders. But our most important metric is, well, buzz.

There were plenty of big names on hand, ranging from advertising industry titan Sir Martin Sorrell to most of the top names in syndication. And as usual every year, the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards event was a gathering of bold-faced names, all on hand this year to fete honorees Dick Ebersol, Mary Hart, Regis Philbin and Gerhard Zeiler. (Disclosure: B&C is a partner in that event.)

But it was more than attendees and big speakers. At the beginning of the year, this publication slapped a sunny sky and the word “optimism” on its cover and said we thought it was creeping back into our industry. And that seemed to continue at NATPE, as talk circled around cash coming back to the local station business and how the content and creation businesses are finding ways to succeed as habits and technologies evolve weekly, daily or hourly.

So NATPE came back with a bounce in its step, probably from a combination of the move to Miami along with money and optimism flowing back into the business. Either way—well done, Phil.