New CEO Says NATPE Is Well Ahead of Benchmarks of the Past

Rod Perth

The annual conference and market in Miami Beach in January will celebrate its 50th anniversary with reflections on the past, present and future; Tartikoff honorees include Steve Levitan, John Langley and BET’s Debra Lee.

Modern Family executive producer Steven Levitan, reality TV writer-producer John Langley and BET CEO Deborah Lee will be among the honorees when the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards are presented during the 50th anniversary edition of the NATPE market and conference in January in Miami Beach. Rod Perth, the group’s new president and CEO, made the announcement Tuesday during his first conference call with reporters.

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Perth said the honorees were chosen for their accomplishments and because they “have really contributed to the business.”

The theme of this year's event, set for Jan. 28-30 at the Fontainebleau Hotel is “Beyond Disruption,” which Perth called a “metaphor for opportunity.” He noted that things that “disrupted television” in the past, including the remote control and VCRs, eventually turned out to be a way to grow the business. “New markets were created," he said, "and people not only survived but thrived."

Perth said that for the first time in years, all of the major TV distributors will participate, and that commitments for exhibitors and attendees are “well ahead of the benchmarks of the past.”

The executive was referring to the addition of Sony Pictures TV, which is returning to NATPE for the first time in many years as an exhibitor, joining other majors such as CBS, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Television. The long list of participants also will include Debmar-Mercury, Fremantle, Hasbro Studios, MGM Worldwide and Univision.

Perth said there also is increased interest from the digital side, with players like Google and its YouTube unit clamoring to be part of the conference.

To celebrate NATPE convention's 50th year, Perth said the group wants to increase the number of panels on the past, present and future, doing special events around Game Changers, Story Tellers, Visionaries, Global Navigators and more.

“”We are hopeful the convention will lead us into ways to ramp up the market and conference experience in an important and relevant way,” said Perth.

Returning to the theme of "Beyond Disruption," Perth said, “It’s about the impact of technology and the opportunities of technology, which are collectively confronting the industry today.”

To answer some of those questions, the NATPE panels like those built around Game Changers will be a way “to tap into companies who have challenged conventions,” he said.

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Among other planned sessions: Masters of Messaging will addressing outstanding people and companies on the advertising and marketing side of the business; The Storytellers That Shape Pop Culture will feature conversations with TV’s top icons and creators in a “Chat With …” format; and Global Navigators will focus on international content and programming including international channels, formats, global production solutions and cross‑cultural brand strategies.

“We’re grateful to provide all who attend the chance to celebrate NATPE’s important role in the history of the television business, as well as to be able to take a thoughtful, reflective, service-oriented approach to exploring the many exciting opportunities and serious challenges that lie ahead,” said Perth, who took the reins of National Association of Television Producers and Executives in May.  "Our objective is to encourage a sense of optimism and reason to the conversation.”

Perth said that he has spent much of his time since taking the job talking with people from other organizations that hold similar conventions, markets and conferences, looking for ways to work together.

That includes Realscreen, which is holding its event on the same dates as NATPE but in Washington, D,C. Perth said he thinks many people will attend both this year and hopes that in the future the two groups can better coordinate so the dates don't conflict.

Perth said he is happy to return to the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and that the group is talking with hotel officials about the future. He would not say how long the current contract runs but did not rule out holding NATPE in other cities in the future.

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