The Jornadas cable show, held annually in Buenos Aires, is
known for its huge stands, loud music and late-night fiestas. Now it looks as if
many of the players are partied out.
By Dec. 1, the first deadline for reserving space for next
year's show, only about 40 companies had booked 50 percent of the booth space
available, said a spokesman for Inforexco S.A., the company that organizes the event for
the Argentine Cable Television Association (ATVC). That contrasts with the 70 to 80
companies that last year snapped up 85 percent of the booth space by the first deadline
for the 1998 event.
Industry players may buy booth space at the show up until
the last minute, but booking early enables them to secure prime real estate on the show
Changes in Argentina's cable industry in recent years have
made exhibiting at the show less enticing. As the market has consolidated from about 1,500
medium and small cable operators to two dominant players, Multicanal and
CableVisión/TCI2, the number of cable operators in attendance for international
programmers to meet at the show has dramatically declined.
Some bigger exhibitors had shelled out up to $250,000 on
lavish stands and glitzy parties. Such spending seems less justified amid the
consolidation and hard times, with Latin American subscriber growth seen slowing during
wider economic troubles. At the same time, emboldened operators are putting downward
pressure on carriage rates.
Recognizing the changes, ATVC has made next year's
Jornadas a more modest affair. The maximum booth size is 130 square meters and costs $255
per square meter; in 1998 the limit was 280 square meters at $280 per square meter. Also,
Jornadas next year will be a three-day affair, trimmed from four days.
Still, some past exhibitors, such as CBS TeleNoticias and
Gems Televisión, are opting not to pitch camp next year.
"Given today's environment, it does not make sense for
us to exhibit at Jornadas. We would rather redirect those dollars into specific [cable]
systems needs," said Loreyne Alicea, Gems' vice president, international
affiliate sales and marketing.