The first joint Eastern Show, scheduled for early October, is the latest casualty of the continuing economic doldrums and cable-industry consolidation.
The Atlantic Cable Partners and the Southern Cable Telecommunications Association last Tuesday announced their decision to cancel the event, slated for Baltimore from Oct. 1 through Oct. 3. Organizers said that holding the meeting this year would not be in the best interests of their 18 member states.
The groups indicated they would consider holding a joint event for the Eastern region down the road, and will convene early this summer to discuss such plans.
SCTA executive director Nancy Horne said the decision was reached unanimously by member associations during a conference call the prior week.
"There were a lot of factors: the economic downturn, the slow recovery and declining attendance at other trade shows," said Horne. "We'll see what transpires over the next few months and determine what makes sense.
"We want to have a forum for the industry in the east, but a cable trade show may not be the way to go," she added. "We'll see how the landscape changes before we meet again in June."
She said attendance at the Great Lakes Cable Expo, Texas Show and National Show could help them make their decision.
Horne and Richard Altieri, president of the Cable Television & Telecommunications Association of New York, said the groups did not formally survey membership before deciding to drop the joint 2002 show.
Horne said the 12 state groups that comprise the SCTA were "not heavily reliant" on revenues from the trade shows. But Altieri said some smaller state associations could no doubt have used money from the East Coast Cable show canceled last October in Baltimore or from the 2002 event.
Attendance at the last Eastern Show, in Atlanta last March, totaled about 2,000, down 12 percent from 2000 figures.
As of Feb. 21, about 400 operators had registered for the Great Lakes Cable Expo, set for Indianapolis on Feb. 27 and 27, said show manager Debbie Locklear. She said the total was typical, because the confab usually attracts another 200 on-site sign-ups.
Although programmers will have a strong presence at the event, Locklear said that overall, exhibitors would be down about 25 percent.
The Great Lakes show, open to cable officials from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, was not held in 2001.
Locklear said organizers decided to shift the event away from September, a period in which many operators prepare their budgets for the following year.