By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

With less than a week to go before the start of the 45th annual NATPE, the first big television market of the year, television executives the world over are packing their bags for Las Vegas. VideoAge spoke with Rose Marie Vega, vice president, International Distribution, HBO Enterprises-Spain, Portugal and Latin America, about why HBO chose a suite over the floor and how the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is affecting everyone.

VideoAge International: So HBO will be in a suite. Why?

Rose Marie Vega: Suites deliver more comfortable meeting rooms. It’s a more elegant, quieter setting in which to do business. Plus, it’s easily accessible. I’ve got a full schedule of meetings lined up.

VAI: How will the Writers Guild of America strike affect HBO at the market, if at all?

RMV: Unlike many others, I’m lucky to be able to say that I have 43 episodes of In Treatment, a captivating new series about a therapist and the patients he treats, available immediately. Each episode is 30 minutes of pure drama. But we’re all just going to have to wait and see. If the strike is over soon, the industry might be able to pull it out for the L.A. Screenings in May. If not, many just won’t be able to deliver.

VAI: Has anything positive happened as a result of the strike?

RMV: Of course. It’s been a plus for reality television — they’ve certainly benefited — but reality programming can only go so far.

VAI: In view of the fact that studios (specifically their domestic divisions), opted out of the market entirely, or are choosing to take on a lower profile, why is NATPE still an important event for HBO to attend?

RMV: In recent years, NATPE’s become more of an international market than a domestic market. We have a huge range of programming, including premium movies, series, late-night programming and documentaries. In addition to In Treatment, which will be seen on HBO Latin America during the first quarter of 2008, The Wire’s been getting a lot of press. It’s available throughout Latin America for free-TV. To paraphrase the slogan, we’re not TV, we’re HBO. We have something for everyone.

VAI: What are you looking forward to at NATPE?

RMV: I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and reconnecting. But HBO is known for redefining television, so I’m also looking forward to showing everyone just how much we have to offer.

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