So I arrived in Vegas on Saturday afternoon from St Louis. When I handed in my rental car there, it was snowing. When I got outside the airport in Vegas it was about 85 degrees. BLISS! I met up with Chak Hee when I got to the hotel and we set off to explore the town. I will gloss over the hotel because, to paraphrase Gil, it was not really up to standard for emerging leaders!! Well, it was very 70s, didn’t seem it had been renovated for years and the clientele was not exactly Bellagio. But my basic requirements are clean and comfortable beds and hot water in the morning shower and it had both of those, so I won’t really whinge.
Vegas is crazy, insane, ridiculous – but kinda fun for all that! It’s been strange being at this conference full of serious broadcast people and high technology and then heading back to the Strip with its yard-long margaritas and all you can eat buffets! The conference – National Association of Broadcasters annual event – has been something of an eye-opener. It’s very focused on the industry, so all the stands are about broadcast technologies and many of the conference events have been the same. Unfortunately the two best sessions for me were at the same time…sods law. I saw Anthony Zuiker, founder of CSI, speaking this morning and this afternoon was at a session on social networking. I have to say there is a bit of me which doesn’t have much truck with this “boo-hoo our audience share is being taken away by new technologies whatever can we do about it” attitude you hear around the halls here. Yes, people, mainly but not exclusively young ones, are turning to alternative venues for some aspects of their entertainment and news. But it still seems to me that there is a basic adage in this industry – people respond to quality programmes. If there is a move away from television to other media, it’s got a lot more to do with the quality of what is being broadcast, rather than the platform it’s being broadcast on. A good TV show is a good TV show and still draws in tens of millions of viewers (CSI being a prime example). Having mobile, web and gaming associations alongside The Swan is never going to make it anything other than manipulative, voyeuristic, shoddy programming. It was interesting talking about this with Chak Hee (Korea Fellow and Chief Anchor of an English-language TV channel there), because in the news world, the web is much more competition for TV than a complement, as we were discussing in the sessions I went to.
Catching the red-eye to Florida tonight, arriving early tomorrow and doing the driving thing again, so tune in later for more Antonia-related automotive fun!