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NATPE Gets DownTo Business

NATPE is a small conference that takes on a big topic: content, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, satellite, online or smartphones. In the three-plus days that the industry converges on Miami Beach Jan. 23-25, a lot happens in a short time. Besides the impromptu meet-ups with key clients and creative conversations with colleagues, there are a few things you won’t want to miss.

“What I am happy and proud about is that I believe the conference re! ects what we’re trying to be—and that’s truly an international, multiplatform conference,” says Rick Feldman, now in his ninth year as president of NATPE. “Regardless of what part of the business you come from, there should be several things in Miami that interest you.”

Conference-wise, NATPE is divided into three interweaving tracks: traditional content, advertising, digital. “We see creative, funding and distribution as the three pillars of our business,” says Feldman.

While most of the Jan. 24 agenda is dedicated to advertising, panels on all three topics are scheduled throughout the conference to allow attendees to catch at least a few. One thing that will feel different this year is that there are fewer panels in the traditional moderator- plus-four-panelists format. In several instances, one journalist or industry expert will sit down with one executive. And in some cases, the execs will just interview each other.

Many of those conversations are not to be missed. On Jan. 23 at 10:15 a.m., B&C editor-in-chief Ben Grossman will chat with Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, following a keynote conversation between News Corp. chief digital officer Jonathan Miller and Yahoo!’s Ross Levinsohn. At 11:45 a.m., super-agent Mark Itkin, co-head of television at WME Entertainment, will talk to John Saade, ABC’s executive VP of alternative series and late-night programming, and Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming.

Feldman himself will put his interview skills to the test, talking with new Comcast and NBCUniversal leadership Jeff Shell and Ted Harbert on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m.

On Jan. 24 at 12:15 p.m., B&C executive editor Melissa Grego sits down with Univision president Cesar Conde. At 3 p.m., Lionsgate Television Group president Kevin Beggs will talk with former Discovery COO and Fox Entertainment president Peter Liguouri. That’s followed at 4:30 by Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBCUniversal Television Entertainment and current president of Gaspin Media, chatting with Ted Sarandos, Netflix’ chief content officer.

NATPE is no longer a busy programming bazaar, but at its core, it’s still a place to do business, says Feldman. “We are first and foremost a marketplace,” he says. “NATPE is the largest professional video content marketplace in the United States. Our conference is built on top of the marketplace. We re! ect the business as it is.”

And of course there are the parties: NATPE kicks off on Jan. 22 with an allconference cocktail party at the Raleigh Hotel from 6 to 8 p.m. On Jan. 23, NATPE hosts a poolside cocktail party at the Fontainebleau. Some lucky clients can attend private parties with Steve Harvey, star of NBCU’s new talk show; the cast of NBC’s Parks and Recreation; and Charlie Sheen, whose new sitcom, Anger Management, is set to air in a test on FX.

On Jan. 24, NATPE—in conjunction with B&C, Multichannel News, NBCUniversal Television Distribution and RBC Capital Markets—hosts the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards at 6 p.m.

This year, the event will honor Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of FremantleMedia North America, which produces American Idol, America’s Got Talent and many other shows; Fernando Gaitán, vice president of production and content at Colombia’s RCN TV and creator of worldwide telenovela phenomenon Yo Soy Betty, la Fea; Dennis Swanson, president of station operations for the Fox TV station group; and Matthew Weiner, creator and executive producer of Mad Men, which returns to AMC for season five in March.

Those able to burn the candle at both ends can get up early for daily “Coffee With” presentations, joining the cast of Starz’ new drama, Magic City, on Monday; the producers of NBC’s Fashion Star, on Tuesday; and with Univision executives on Wednesday. Attendees needing a bit of a break can also take advantage of the beautiful location with some beachfront yoga.

Wherever you spend your time, just getting out and mixing with your peers is time well spent, says Feldman.

“Regardless of all the technology, it comes down to face-to-face conversations, whether that’s happening at cocktail parties, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, meetings in the bar or in the suites,” he says. “Despite video conferencing and all the other options out there, there’s nothing that replaces being with clients in a nice environment to talk and trade ideas. There’s a serendipity about it.”

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