Skip to main content

Unofficial guide to NATPE 02

Maps and taxis might be the most valuable commodities at the 39th annual NATPE Conference in Las Vegas next week. The conference will still be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center as scheduled, but a lot of the action will be taking place elsewhere, with most syndicators working out of hotel suites on the Strip.

Citing exorbitant costs and the lack of potential station buyers at NATPE, nearly every major U.S. syndication studio will be housed at the Venetian Hotel or other venues away from the exhibit floor. That's not as it once was, when big syndicators like Warner Bros., Columbia TriStar and King World took up the bulk of NATPE's space with house-sized booths filled with food, celebrities and promotional knickknacks.

But consolidation, a down economy and Sept. 11 have changed things.

The NATPE floor will be filled instead with international distributors and technology companies looking to sell their wares to the station community, whose attendance could be down by as much as half. A total of 20,348 people walked through NATPE's gates in 2001.

Here are a couple signs of the (bad) times:

  • Twelve months ago. NATPE filled both of the Las Vegas Convention Center's large exhibition floors. Next week, all the exhibitors will be grouped together on one floor, the other left vacant.
  • More than 500 exhibitors signed up to be on the floor this year, compared with 860 in 2001. According to NATPE President Bruce Johansen, more than 200 companies that exhibited last year have either merged with other companies or gone out of business.

Highlights at NATPE this year include "A Conversation" with FCC Chairman Michael Powell and a ceremony to honor Law & Order
creator/producer Dick Wolf on Jan. 23, a number of sports-themed panels, and D-Town, a 15,000-square-foot area dedicated to all things digital.

"The 2002 conference promises to be as compelling and relevant as it has been throughout our history," says Johansen. "NATPE's focus for 2002 was dictated by what would best serve our membership. We will provide our attendees with the most up-to-date information from industry leaders in areas that impact a tremendous number of people in our business."