Las Vegas -- When he wants to check the pulse of his convention, National
Association of Broadcasters president Edward Fritts makes time to talk with the
'Cab drivers, as you know in Las Vegas, seem to be a barometer of how we are
doing, and I've talked to several of them in the line, and they seem to be very
pleased that the NAB is in town,' said Fritts, whose personal mode of convention
transportation is a limousine.
Fritts offered that anecdote at the same time he announced that attendance at
this year's convention fell 16 percent, from 113,000 to 95,000. He attributed
the slump to a poor economy and to aftershocks from the Sept. 11 terrorist
'A certain fear of travel [and] the economy worldwide is not doing well,
quite frankly,' said Fritts, who noted that other industry shows have suffered
An NAB show of about 100,000 people is about the right size for the Las Vegas
infrastructure, he said. As shows grow larger, so do the bus and taxis lines at
'You need to have a convention that is manageable, that operates on a scale
that allows attendees to move about the city,' he added. 'If you are going to
dinner and you have to go an hour-and-a-half early to go stand in a taxi line,
it's discouraging. It does not enhance the experience.'
The NAB's biggest show ever was in 2000, when it attracted 115,000 people at
the peak of the Internet boom.
'There were hundreds of those companies that were not in business the
following year,' Fritts said.
He added that he did not expect the attendance slump to continue next year if
the economy continues to revive.