Jornadas Ready For New Event Organizer

Perhaps the anticipated figures were a bit too optimistic, with some 1,500 participants showing up, instead of the 3,000 expected. Nevertheless, the 16th annual Jornadas (Spanish for “days”) cable TV convention proved to be its most successful incarnation yet.

Held at the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the event was jointly organized by the Argentine Cable TV Association (ATVC) and CADiSSa, the national association of satellite TV signal distributors.

Argentine vice president Daniel Scioli giving his Jornadas inauguration speech

Attesting to Jornadas’ increased popularity, its opening day was attended by Argentine vice president Daniel Scioli and the mayor of Buenos Aires, Jorge Telerman.

At the exposition level, there were 53 exhibitors, representing all the major international TV companies, including Fox, ESPN, Televisa, TVE and Caracol, though most attendees came from local offices only. The presence of Argentine TV companies, including Artear, Telefe, Claxson, Pramer and TYC was solid. The event also attracted most of the international TV trade press.

Once a mix of hardware and software exhibitors, Jornadas has recently become more of a content market, with only a few hardware companies — such as Motorola and Scientific Atlanta Argentina — remaining.

The event is taking on an increased international feel, with participants coming from seven countries. Most were from Latin America, as well as a few from the U.S., and one from the U.K. (Al Jazeera). Subsequently, at this event, English –– the official language at major international events such as MIPCOM in Cannes, France or the Asia TV Forum in Singapore –– takes a secondary role and Spanish becomes the primary method of communication.

From all indications, Jornadas is poised to take on an increased international role, and not just limited to the Southern Cone, especially if organizers can get over a few hurdles. Better yet –– as pointed out by a few participants –– if a professional event organizer, such as NATPE or Reed Midem, were to take over the event, under the sponsorship and direction of both ATVC and CADiSSa, things would run more smoothly (Reed Exhibition, for example, is organizing the Argentina Electronic Show on behalf of the daily La Nation.)

Both associations get the merit of having created a market-cum-conference with great potential, but now it is said —­­­ before it runs the risk of collapsing under the weight of its own success –– it needs to move to the next level, which the organizers seem unable to do, simply because of their roles as associations, not professional market organizers.

Jornadas has everything going for it: an easy-to-reach location, a perfect calendar date with spring weather, favorable exchange rates, and a florid domestic TV industry. However, as it is now, many local companies prefer to have meetings with the increasing number of overseas Jornadas attendees in their offices, in an effort to avoid dealing with the event’s disorganization.

One of the many organizational problems facing the Jornadas is the difficult and loosely regulated Argentine customs — problems that even the otherwise efficient FedEx is unable to handle. Argentine customs rules on incoming material for convention differ according to presiding customs official and are often blocked from delivery to the exhibition center.

The problems with Argentine customs are so severe that even Argentine TV export companies ship and receive material from neighboring Uruguay and then truck it to Buenos Aires.

These problems are well known to the Jornadas organizers, but at least for now, they are unable to deal with them. The official recipient of material shipped from overseas is still CADiSSa, which, unfortunately, doesn’t yet have an import license and therefore is unable to receive the material even if cleared by customs.
Another, if minor, problem is the Sheraton Hotel, which boasts a five-star lobby and restaurant, but three-star room accommodations. The hotel is very noisy and surrounded by multi-lane roads, which makes it difficult to reach other areas without a car.

The Intercontinental Hotel, which housed the event in the past, was definitely a better location; however, the Jornadas expansion demanded a larger area than the Intercontinental could offer, hence the move to the Sheraton, which was a poor choice.

During the four-day event, which started on October 31, there were 21 conferences focusing on regulations, digital technology and piracy. The conference theme was titled: “Un delito contra la industria” (a crime against the industry).

But what received the most attention was the official ATVC statement that Telcos will not be a factor in the television distribution business. However, considering that it came from a cable-TV association, the sentiment was understood.