Organizers have vowed to step up security at next month’s Mipcom’s TV trade show in Cannes, as they did during the Gulf War, in light of Tuesday’s terrorist onslaught.
The French government has already launched a nationwide security red alert, deploying more than 4,000 police officers, gendarmes and military men to protect sensitive spots across the nation.
But Reed Midem, Mipcom’s organizer, has promised to go “much deeper” on the French Riviera next month.
“We won’t stop at what the French government is doing,” Reed Midem’s TV topper Michael Weatherseed told Daily Variety on Thursday, following an emergency meeting of company execs on the safety issue.
Always a concern
Even in an ordinary year, Weatherseed pointed out, security is always an issue at Mipcom, with participants from countries like Israel or Ireland requiring special arrangements.
“It will be expensive, but this is not something where you can take the cost into consideration,” Weatherseed said.
Despite these reassurances, a number of American execs expressed concern Wednesday about the security of air travel, especially since key trade shows like Mipcom and the London Screenings are no more than a month away.
“For all we know now, America could be at war or at least in open hostilities in some part of the world where terrorists are lodged,” said one international TV veteran.
Paramount Intl. TV prexy Gary Marenzi, a staunch supporter of trade shows, also had reservations. “It depends on what state the world is in,” he said, adding that Par hasn’t yet come up with a company policy on future air travel. Marenzi could make attending Mipcom voluntary on the part of his division’s staffers.
Weatherseed said he had spoken to execs at a handful of U.S. companies since Tuesday’s terrorist attacks and despite safety fears, the Americans said they did not intend to pull out.
“They said that if they didn’t come, that would be giving in to the terrorists, and life must go on,” the exec said. “I am not expecting many cancellations.”
Some 165 U.S. companies have registered so far, slightly down on last year partly because of vanishing dot-coms.