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THE MORNING BUZZ: The VSDA Convention Isn't the Only Confab Accused of Losing Its Allure

21 Jan, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

As news of Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Convention reengineering and moving to the Rio Hotel circulated last week, along with questions about how to bring back the gathering's lost allure, I read a column in The Los Angeles Times that seemed strangely on point.

TV columnist Brian Lowry lamented the loss of "fun" at the NATPE convention, the annual VSDA-like gathering for television programming folk taking place this week. "There was a day…when the TV industry was not the exclusive playground of multinational conglomerates, when mom-and-pop operations existed, entrepreneurs cashed in fabulously on pluck, luck and initiative and people actually had fun," Lowry wrote.

Like our own beleaguered mom-and-pop stores and indie suppliers, the small guys in the TV business are a dwindling group, a dying source of gossip and stunts that boosted the "carnival-like" atmosphere of TV conventions past, Lowry noted.

While we had our yearly protest by Video Oyster's Norman Scherer and Playboy Wet ‘N' Wild parties, the NATPE convention sported such events as armadillo races and staged wrestling matches, according to the Lowry piece.

But no more.

This year the NATPE convention is a "scaled-down affair," said Lowry, with a fair number of companies eschewing the expo floor to do business in hotel suites and others scaling back on their typically "luxurious booths." That's not a far cry from the new expanded-meeting-room plan for the VSDA convention, designed to enhance the "real working environment," as convention planning committee member Fred Handsman described it to Video Store Magazine last week.

While it's futile to try to bring back the past, all work and no play makes you know what. Let's hope the convention doesn't get so serious that we lose sight of the exciting business we're in. At any rate, it's somewhat comforting to know we're not alone.

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