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Q&A: New NATPE Chief JP Bommel Tunes Up Conference Programming

Variety logo Variety 1/16/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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There’s a new boss at the helm of the NATPE convention this time around. JP Bommel is steering his first show since joining the organization as managing director and chief operating officer in September 2015. Bommel’s background in music and marketing is evident in the conference schedule this year, which will feature a program track dedicated to music in television for the first time.

Bommel came to the National Assn. of Television Program Executives, after working for Reed Midem on the annual Mip TV, Mipcom, and Midem trade shows. Before that, the native of France held marketing posts at Sony Music, BMG Entertainment, Capitol/EMI, and Qwest Communications. He also ran his own shingle, BCi, which was involved with such events as SXSW and the Cannes Lions festival.

As he put the finishing touches on the Jan. 17-19 conference in Miami, Bommel spoke with Variety about his goal of making NATPE the most significant gathering of the year for the global television business.

NATPE’s significance in the TV dealmaking calendar has waned amid the massive consolidation and shifts in the industry. What are your goals for keeping the event and the organization relevant? 

The No. 1 goal is to make sure we continue to grow and for people to recognize the fact that we are the definitive global television market. We are the first content market of the [calendar] year and we are the largest in the U.S. We provide a platform for content creators and buyers to do business together. It’s very important for studios and producers and buyers to meet together. We have more international buyers coming to the show [this year], and more production companies from China and South Korea and Japan.

You will have a China Pavilion on the exhibition floor for the first time. What is sparking the interest in NATPE from Chinese companies? 

There is such an appetite in China’s creative community to work with us. There is a lot of creativity going on there. Our purpose is to help facilitate their relationships with U.S. and European buyers, and those buyers want to understand what’s happening in China.

Why the new emphasis on music? 

Music is very important to content for various reasons. It’s part of the intersection of creativity and the monetization of content that we are focused on with all of our conference programming. We wanted to add a track that helps our content creators familiarize themselves with how to connect with the music industry, and help our music attendees understand how to get into the world of television. One of the sessions I like a lot is with Maureen Crowe of the Guild of Music Supervisors. It’s going to be a really engaging session about how music gets used in programs.

NATPE 2017 comes as local TV stations are grappling with all kinds of competitive pressure and the prospect of dwindling political dollars in the post-Trump world. Is that why you assembled the Station Summit track?

Broadcasters are a very important group for us. Local is the new global. We want to make sure that people at the local level have a place to share their ideas with the rest of the world. We have most of the GMs from the big affiliate groups, and Sinclair, Hearst, Tribune. We want to explore the importance of digital at the local station level and how does that affect their business. We have a station group state of the union panel that is going to be amazing.

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