Is the end near for NATPE?
After announcing they would hold their winter gathering in the Bahamas next year, the National Association of Television Programming Executives have pulled back on those plans due to their Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, leaving them with an uncertain future.
The organization said no decision has been made regarding other gatherings in 2023 including the one they planned in Budapest, Germany but given the expense of holding such an event overseas, don’t be surprised if it’s scrapped entirely.
There is already a potential buyer for NATPE lined up: C21 Media, a UK-based publisher who wants to acquire the organization and hold the events in question, but it looks like any kind of acquisition won’t be closed in time to hold them. Any purchase would need the approval of a bankruptcy judge.
NATPE filed for Chapter 11 earlier this month due to the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic which had a negative impact on the convention business worldwide, hurting the organization’s revenues. As reported in NextTV, NATPE has a list of twenty creditors filing claims against them, including the Fontainebleau Hotel and Eden Roc Resort in Miami, where their traditional show was held for the last decade. While NATPE was able to hold their gathering in January 2020 two months before Covid broke, the January 2021 gathering was held virtually and this January’s meeting was scrapped altogether. However, NATPE did hold a Streaming Plus gathering in Los Angeles last month, but is much smaller in scale than its main conventions.
If this C21 deal doesn’t go through, it is likely the end of the line for NATPE, who began in 1963 and held yearly gatherings where television executives and program directors purchased programming for local stations through syndicators. In its infancy, several of these shows were held in Chicago and later moved to bigger venues in New Orleans and Las Vegas, among other cities. NATPE has had a lower profile in the last decade or so as the gathering has changed focus from traditional syndication to international selling as local stations have moved away from such fare, especially in the last five years. In a way, the decline of NATPE mirrors linear TV in general as both were big in their heydays in the 1980s and 1990s, but now struggling to reinvent themselves in a vastly different media marketplace.