By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

With NATPE approaching, international TV distributors are hurriedly readying their slates for the very first market of the year — a market that many insiders speculate will show people once and for all how the flailing economy always tends to help the entertainment industry. For the final edition of the Road to NATPE series, VideoAge checked in with Jene Elzie, vice president of International Sales and Strategic Planning for Los Angeles-based Comcast International Media Group, to find out how she plans to approach NATPE and her expectations for the market.

VideoAge International: Will Comcast be on the convention floor or in a suite this year? Why?

Jene Elzie: In a suite. We’ve been in a suite for a couple of years now. It’s much more intimate. You can just sit down and get your business done. A booth is nice in that it attracts more walk-ins, but personally, I prefer a suite.

VAI: What product are you bringing to NATPE?

JE: We have a lot of variety for our different networks. For Style, we have Ruby, a series that focuses on a sweet, obese woman and her quest to lose weight. We also have Running in Heels, a reality docu-series that takes viewers behind the scenes at Marie Claire magazine. For E!, we have Pam: Girl on the Loose, which is now available for the Latin American market. For G4, we have Human Wrecking Balls, a show about two brothers who rip things apart for entertainment. And for Versus, we have Sports Soup, an irreverent look at the week in sports. It’s quite the eclectic slate.

VAI: What territories will you be focusing on while in Las Vegas?

JE: A majority of our [NATPE] clients are from Latin America so we tailor our stuff to the Latin American market. Certainly, there are also buyers from Europe and Asia present at the market, but we do alter our strategy to focus on Latin America. We do well throughout the entire Latin American region. We cover the gamut.

VAI: With so many new markets each year, is NATPE still relevant?

JE: There are in fact many markets popping up. But many of them are more tailored — SPORTEL focuses on sports, DISCOP East focuses on Eastern Europe. NATPE is certainly still relevant, especially with the number of Latins in attendance. It’s a more regionalized opportunity for us.

VAI: How are the challenges Comcast is facing this year during NATPE different from the challenges the company faced during last year’s market?

JE: We had challenges with the writers’ strike last year and we have challenges with the economy this year. But last year, you knew that certain product wouldn’t be there, so you knew how to fill in the holes. You had a clear vision of how it would be. This year, there’s no crystal ball. We don’t know how the markets will react or how sponsors will feel the pain or how consumers/viewers will react. But at least for those of us in the TV industry, we have a little bit of an advantage because people want to be entertained during hard times.

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