Last year, NATPE Budapest was Rod Perth’s first market as the newly minted president of NATPE.

Perth told VideoAge that he and his team spent much of his inaugural year listening to feedback from NATPE members and participants in the markets.

NATPE Budapest (formerly DISCOP Budapest, but cut ties with the DISCOP organization two years ago) just announced a partnership with FRAPA, the international format industry association dedicated to the protection of formats (members include format creators, producers, distributors and broadcasters). FRAPA representatives will be at NATPE Budapest and can be contacted via NATPE’s new online Navigator service (more on that below) to answer legal questions concerning format production, acquisitions or sales, both ahead of the market and at the event.

VideoAge spoke to Perth ahead of NATPE Budapest, which will take place June 24-27 at the usual Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel, to find out more about the Navigator service, plans to ease tension between the independents and the studios and more.

VideoAge International: First off, why is a market like NATPE Budapest important?
Rod Perth: NATPE is a year-round facilitator and catalyst for conferences that connect the TV industry. We believe in Eastern Europe in a major way, and we’re committed to creating a cost-effective market there.

VAI: What can we expect at this year’s event that’s new?
RP: There was a little bit of tension at times because the studio screenings tended to take buyers off the floor — something that independent companies didn’t appreciate.

So we worked with the studios — and they were full partners with us on this — to separate the screenings so that they don’t compete with the rest of the market. We’ve reserved Monday and most of the day Tuesday for students screenings. Then the market will start midday on Tuesday. That was a big response to what we heard from attendees.

We’ve also made a huge financial investment in navigational tools, creating a state-of-the-art meeting concierge service called “Navigator.” It will help buyers and sellers attending the market by providing assistance with scheduling meetings and attending screenings. The initiative is launching this week and will be available up until the market.

We plan to make it available for NATPE in Miami too [next January]. We got great feedback from the NATPE App we designed for Miami, and we’re hoping this will be similar.

VAI: Any special events we should know about?
RP: On Tuesday, June 25, from 8-10 a.m., we will host a breakfast briefing session in collaboration with Broadband TV News at Café Gerbeaud. Moderated by Broadband TV News editor Julian Clover, the session, entitled “Extending the Value of Content – Beyond Borders and Across Platforms” will feature Antony Root, EVP of Original Programming and Production, HBO Europe and Patty Geneste, Chair of FRAPA.

That’s a first. If it’s sold out — we hope it is — we’ll do more in the future.

We’re also hosting two parties this year that are open to everyone. The first, on Tuesday evening, is a cocktail reception on the terrace of the Sofitel (admission to that party will be included in the day pass).

On Wednesday night we’re having another party, continuing the 50th anniversary celebration that we kicked off at NATPE in January. That’ll be at Buddha Bar, the hottest nightclub in Budapest.

VAI: How are you encouraging buyers to attend?
RP: We’re making an effort to make things as cost-effective as possible. We’re offering a Tuesday-only day pass for U.S.$45, and have lots of VIP buyer incentives. We’ve identified the buyers our exhibitors want to be there and have made it cost-effective for them. The sooner they sign up, the more financial incentives they get.

VAI:Has the organization come up with any ways for exhibitors to save money?
RP: We’re a very reasonable market and there’s been no increase for distributors.

We offer all different pricing points — including suites, meeting tables, viewing boxes.

Distributors can spend as little as $2,100 for a single-meeting table (which comes with a market badge) and go all the way up to suites. Nothing goes higher than $10,000. A single screening suite comes (which comes with three badges) is $9,000 and two suites side-by-side are just $11,000.

VAI: What are your predictions on participant numbers?
RP: I wouldn’t expect huge increases in numbers over last year, as we’re going into the headwinds of a difficult economic time in that area.

That said, several new exhibitors from regions including North America, Asia, Europe and Latin America have signed up this year.

VAI: Are you contemplating a venue change in the near future?
RP: For now, we’re still at the Sofitel hotel in Budapest and most of the screenings at Cafe Gerbeaud.

We don’t have any plans to change the venue now, but we’re always trying to be responsive to our customers and trying to find the best, most efficient way to come together.

Hopefully we’ll be there for a long time, but we’re also pragmatic. We’re dedicated to serving the Eastern European region.

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