The Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, an annual marketing ritual held at LA’s Beverly Hilton, has become the latest industry event to be canceled by the coronavirus.
In a memo sent Friday to its members, the TCA said it is “working with the networks to explore virtual alternatives both within the original press tour time frame and later in 2020. But, given the current state of television production, as of now, this is a cancellation not a postponement.”
No decision has been made about the TCA Awards, which are handed out in the middle of summer tour, the board said. The memo ended with the hope that board members would “see you all in the ballroom in January,” meaning at the TCA’s annual winter press tour in Pasadena.
The cancellation is the latest twist in the 2020 industry calendar, and one that could have longer-term impact in terms of building awareness for TV and streaming programming. Dozens of broadcast and cable networks as well as digital and streaming outlets have come to rely on presentation slots during the two-and-a-half-week tour as a way to tout shows and promote their brands.
In addition to the junket-like publicity offerings, with panels and evening events featuring talent meeting the press, the tour has long been a venue for business conversations. A range of top executives and producers stopping through during the fortnight, and on-stage sessions with execs often generate news about their takes on hot-button topics or outlooks on the fast-changing TV landscape.
With so many key elements on lockdown, though, and the state of California maintaining strict control over businesses looking to resume operations over the coming months, staging a live event became untenable.
Here is the full memo:
Dear TCA Members,
We are sad to announce that the 2020 TCA Summer press tour is canceled.
The board members are working with the networks to explore virtual alternatives both within the original press tour time frame and later in 2020. But, given the current state of television production, as of now, this is a cancellation not a postponement.
We will be back to you as soon as possible with potential options from individual networks and with information about the TCA Awards. (There has been no decision made yet about those and we will be sending out a poll to the membership.)
Since most of you have expressed interest in devising online alternatives either this summer or later in the year, we’re looking forward to working with you all and Dave Taylor over the next few weeks as we figure out options.
The fine folks at ABC suggested we might want to have regular conference call check-ins. Please feel free to reply separately to us if you’d like to be involved in those discussions or be left to your own devices and speak individually to us. To be clear: There is no pressure to take part. If anyone needs to tap out completely, we fully understand. We’ll touch base next week with a time for a quick group chat.
Either way, we value all of your input, insight and fellowship at this deeply strange time and we hope to see you all in the ballroom in January.
All the best,
The TCA Board
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