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VSDA Spins Show Around Industry Issues

9 Jul, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

The 24th annual Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) convention, Home Entertainment 2004, will be the focal point for the home entertainment industry next week, from July 14–16, as retailers, studios, independent filmmakers and distributors gather at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas to do business and look to the future of the industry.

An opening general session panel featuring a group of legislative and legal experts from the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Theater Owners, Digital Media Association and others on piracy puts the focus on entertainment's key issue of the moment, said VSDA president Bo Andersen, who is also participating on the panel.

“It's the No. 1 issue that's the most topical and universally important and a threat to the future of all our members,” Andersen said. “It's important that we all work together to establish the legal and business framework now to combat piracy.”

Andersen said a number of educational seminars at the show also reflect another universal concern among retailers: finding ways to grow even as the brick-and-mortar rental business is challenged on a variety of fronts. “How can retailers expand their sellthrough business both in new sales and previously viewed and remain the neighborhood destination for home video and games under all business models?” is an issue being addressed during the show, he said.

The VSDA's newly formed iGroup, representing the interests of independent video retailers, will have its official debut with a “rally” early in the week and an introductory educational session during the show. Meanwhile, buzz at the show will also center on the recent announcement that the VSDA and the National Association of Recording Merchants (NARM) are exploring the possibility of merging. No formal talks between the two groups will take place during the event, but members of the steering committee made up of representatives from both associations will be there, Andersen confirmed.

This year, attendees will have both exhibit suites and a trade show floor to visit. Show organizers implemented the meeting suites program in 2002, at which attendees visited both open and appointment-only hotel suites that were transformed into meeting and display areas. In 2003, the show abandoned the expo hall idea altogether and featured meeting suites only. This year, both the expo hall and the meeting suites were sold out weeks ago, said Liz Crawford, group show director at Home Entertainment Events (HEE), the producer of the show. (HEE is a joint venture between the VSDA and Advanstar Communications, which also publishes Video Store Magazine.)

“We brought the expo hall back based on demand from attendees and, for the most part, noncontent exhibitors who felt their exhibit needs didn't fit a suite environment,” Crawford said.

There is also no dearth of star power at this year's event. At the opening general session July 14, such Hollywood players as directors Blake Edwards and Kevin Smith and actors Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Jason Ritter and Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) are all receiving special recognition from the VSDA.

The event also includes a wide range of parties and other networking events sponsored by most of the major studios, as well as a significant Filmmakers Program intended to involve the independent filmmaker community in marketing their films through the home video pipeline.

Preregistration is on track with last year's pace going into the show, according to show organizers. An estimated 4,000 attendees were at last year's event.

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