The Eastern Show is set to return next month after a
one-year hiatus, but dozens of cable networks and hardware vendors that attended the last
regional convention in 1998 are passing on the Atlanta show.
Eastern Show organizers at the Southern Cable
Telecommunications Association signed 99 exhibitors, down from the 138 that attended the
October 1998 show, which was held in Orlando, Fla. The SCTA decided last year to change
the event to a spring convention.
The downsizing comes as the SCTA and other state and
regional associations are evaluating plans for future conventions in light of industry
consolidation. A National Cable Television Association committee is studying the issue.
Earlier this month, the Iowa Cable Telecommunications
Association decided to scrap the 2000 version of its annual show.
One state-association executive said he expects the NCTA
board to eventually recommend that some of the regional shows limit exhibitors to tabletop
displays as a way to reduce costs for exhibitors, which rarely close deals these days even
at the larger trade shows.
While more than 30 companies that didn't attend the
1998 show bought booths this year, 68 of the companies that exhibited in 1998 aren't
returning, according to a comparison of the exhibitor lists for 1998 and 2000.
SCTA executive director Nancy Horne said she believed
it's actually closer to 50 companies that aren't returning, but she nonetheless
conceded that the show will be much smaller this year.
"We made the decision 18 months ago to concentrate our
efforts on the professional-development component of the show, so consequentially,
we're really not measuring our success on the number of exhibitors we have,"
She wouldn't say how many people have registered for
the convention, which runs from March 12 through 15. "We're really not in the
business of counting numbers and depending on numbers," Horne said, insisting that
the Eastern Show will also be held in 2001.
Companies that exhibited at the 1998 show but are skipping
this year include: A&E Television Networks, Black Entertainment Television, CBS Cable,
DirecTV Inc., High Speed Access Corp., Hybrid Networks Inc., ISP Channel, Ovation
The Arts Network, TVN Entertainment Corp. and several small hardware vendors.
Almost all of those companies attended the Texas Show last
week in San Antonio, another regional show.
Disney Channel didn't exhibit at the Texas Show, nor
will it exhibit at the Eastern Show. But the network's sales staff will still go to
Atlanta to meet with operators attending the show.
"We're planning to have a significant
affiliate-sales participation at the show, and we will be actively meeting with
clients," vice president of national accounts Ben Pyne said in a prepared statement.
Motorola Broadband Communications Sector (formerly General
Instrument Corp.) is returning, partly because top MSO executives encouraged the company
to attend smaller regional shows to support the industry, corporate vice president of
North American sales and support Matt Aden said.
"They say, 'We need you to set the trend as an
industry leader in support of the show,' and we respond to the customer," Aden
Motorola would like to see the industry reduce the number
of trade shows it holds each year and reduce the size of the exhibits at the conventions,
Aden said. "As the industry consolidates, we think we should see some of the shows
consolidate," he added.
The decrease in Eastern Show exhibitors "may force
some of those discussions," Aden said.
The SCTA and the organizers of the East Coast Cable Show,
formerly known as the Atlantic Show, talked about consolidation off and on for years. But
Horne said the SCTA hasn't had discussions with East Coast Cable organizers since
This year's Eastern Show includes educational seminars
featuring executives from outside of the industry who will give presentations on
leadership issues, then respond to an industry "reactor" in each session.
In one such session, The Weekly Standard editor and
publisher Bill Kristol will give a presentation on communications, and new NCTA vice
president of communications David Beckwith will react.