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Columbia's Move Casts A Pall Over 'Upbeat' NAVD

25 Apr, 2002 By: Joan Villa

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—The surprise announcement that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment would limit distribution of its product to two of the five national video wholesalers cast a pall over the last day of the National Association of Video Distributors (NAVD) convention here.

Previously the April 21-23 confab had been a “terrifically upbeat show” with smooth and amicable studio sessions, according to one distributor.

The show was so well received that NAVD executive director Bill Burton expected the scaled-down format and new venue would likely emerge as a model for future wholesaler meetings with studios.

The association will try to woo back smaller studios such as Artisan Home Entertainment and Lions Gate by fine-tuning fees, Burton said. Those suppliers will be charged a lower amount yet to be determined, but most likely based on their product volume through distribution, explained NAVD president Noel Clayton of distributor WaxWorks.

“It shouldn't cost as much to meet with five or six distributors as it did when we were 20 in our heyday,” Clayton added.

The annual event, which began April 21 with an NAVD board meeting followed by private sessions between suppliers and distributors, was moved its longtime home at the Hyatt Grand Champions in the desert resort town of Indian Wells, Calif. to Santa Monica to be closer to Los Angeles-based studios.

Several suppliers still opted out, however, questioning whether it was cost-effective to meet with four domestic and two Canadian wholesalers, and Columbia TriStar canceled abruptly just prior to the event.

The fifth U.S. distributor, VPD of Sacramento, Calif., did not attend. The wholesaler has not attended recent NAVD board meetings and is said to be considering dropping out of the organization.

Meetings with other suppliers gave wholesalers a chance to address issues such as split preorder dates for VHS and DVD product. Over the last few weeks “that went from being a big issue to a non-issue,” Clayton said, as more suppliers bring DVD policies in line with VHS.

Plus, distributors are less concerned that VHS copy-depth programs add administrative costs and push retailers to transition more quickly to DVD, since more suppliers have recently implemented flat pricing and sellthrough pricing, he said.

“I would surely feel next year when we're back here we won't be dealing with programs,” Clayton predicted.

To see photos from NAVD's 2002 show, click here.

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