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NATPE: The art of the deal on Miami Beach

It won't be the most colossal sale made this week at the Fontainebleau. But it surely tells you everything Natpe you need to know about this week's convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives, where 5,000 members of the boob-tube-ousie are gathering to wheel and deal TV shows.

"I'm not going to tell you the name of the country,'' says Stephen J. Davis, president of Hasbro Studios, which makes family and children's shows such as The Transformers. ``But my head of sales came bursting into my office. `This is great! They want to buy everything we have! And they want to pay $55 an episode!'

"And we're going to do it, even though what they're paying us won't cover the cost of shipping the shows. Because you want to get a toehold in that market.''

From $55-a-show blue-plate specials to staggering intercontinental deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, practically everything you've ever seen on television plus much more that you haven't is on sale at the three-day NATPE convention that kicks off Monday.

Though NATPE also includes educational sessions, professional seminars and just-plain-stargazing interludes with people such as Regis Philbin and Sabado Gigante's Don Francisco, the convention has less to do with art than with the art of the deal. NATPE is the television industry's most bustling international marketplace. Producers, network executives and TV-station bosses from all over the world will be schmoozing and selling shows. And as with that Hasbro deal that Davis hopes to seal here, no market is too small.

"We have meetings each half hour, all over the hotel,'' says Marta Sacasa, vice president of a Nicaraguan station, who expects to take a dozen or so shows home with her to the smallest TV market in Central America. "We have meetings at breakfast, meetings at lunch, meetings at dinner, meetings over drinks. And then there are the random meetings in corridors, which might be the most important of them all.'' Read my full story on NATPE wheeling and dealing in Monday's Miami Herald.

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