The Iowa Cable Show has thrown in the towel for the year
By a 5-3 vote, the Iowa Cable Telecommunications
Association's board of directors voted recently to shelve the annual show, slated for
this summer in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The association's board elected to suspend this
year's three-day affair over concerns that most industry executives can't spare
the time away from the office.
For this year at least, the annual event will be replaced
by a combined one-day meeting and golf outing, ICTA executive director Tom Graves said.
"But [the show] is not dead," he added. "We will consider going back to it
in the future."
News of the cancellation came as the National Cable
Television Association was putting together a task force to study whether equipment
manufacturers and programmers still need to exhibit at such regional shows.
If not, the resulting loss of revenues could force some
shows to scale back to one day, sources said. At worst, it could spell the end for others
that trace their origins back to the industry's infancy.
Expense-conscious vendors are looking to eliminate the
costs of exhibiting at small industry gatherings, presumably because with industry
consolidation, business is no longer conducted on the show floor, but rather, at
companies' corporate headquarters.
"[The shows] still serve a purpose in terms of
spending time together. It's still useful to be able to sit and talk to people about
things like marketing campaigns," said Jeff Wade, Showtime Networks Inc.'s
executive vice president of sales and affiliate marketing and SNI's representative on
the NCTA committee.
Over the years, SNI has routinely turned up at everything
from the NCTA's National Show to the less-well-known Caribbean Show, Wade said.
"Anyplace you can meet with distributors is good. But
at what cost?" he asked.
Wade declined to discuss what SNI spends to attend these
shows, but he said the obvious expenses include a spot on the exhibit-room floor;
transporting a booth, along with the manpower to assemble, staff and dismantle the booth;
and shipping the booth on to the next stop.
Graves said the decision to scrap the 2000 Iowa Cable Show
was not related to the NCTA's review.
"Nobody [from the NCTA] talked to me about it,"
he added. "Our key was not the vendors, but whether we could continue to take three
days out of everybody's schedules. But we knew the vendors felt that way. They like
getting together, but it's not like they do a lot of business."
NCTA vice president of association affairs Jadz Janucik
speculated that the ICTA saw the handwriting on the wall. With industry consolidation, she
said, there are fewer players. "And they're not going to be sending as many
people to these shows," she added.
Rather than taking sides in the issue, the NCTA will act as
a facilitator, bringing together a committee of vendors, MSO executives and
state-association officials to try and come up with a solution.
Possible answers include everything from eliminating some
shows, to combining several into one annual event, to just eliminating the exhibit portion
of the shows. "But I don't think anybody is coming in with any preconceived
notions about what the outcome should be," Janucik said.
Graves said events like the Iowa show make it easier for
associations to keep their people informed and able to mobilize if adverse legislation
pops up at the state level. "That's where we lose," he added.