CANNES — Cannes’ Mipcom, the world’s biggest TV market, will go ahead as normal, organizer Reed Midem said Sunday — despite a ferocious storm on Saturday evening, which killed at least 16 people in Cannes and its surroundings.
French President Francois Hollande visited Cannes and neighboring towns with interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve to assess the damage and pay homage to the victims on Sunday.
The unpredictable storm also caused widespread flooding of hotels, shops and restaurants in Cannes on Saturday and sparked electricity and Internet outages at central hotels such as the Carlton and Martinez.
Getting to Cannes has proved problematic, with queues for taxis mounting at Nice airport Sunday, and a Nice-Cannes taxi ride taking two to three hours due to traffic jams.
“The whole MIP team, the Palais staff and our Cannes partners are working non-stop to limit the disruption caused by this exceptional situation,” Laurine Garaude, director of Reed Midem’s TV division, said Sunday.
Mipcom will welcome some 13,600 delegates, its second highest attendance ever, from Monday morning. The pre-opening TV screening of “The Art of More,” presented by Sony Pictures Television, will take place on Sunday evening as scheduled in the Palais des Festivals Grand Auditorium at 6 p.m. At hotels along the Croisette, major companies were already kicking into gear Sunday, Televisa hosting a meeting and lunch, and Beta an early evening cocktail at the JW Marriott.
The Palais des Festivals had an Internet connection on Sunday morning, a crucial consideration as smaller hotels in Cannes were told they would not be back online throughout Sunday.
Mip Junior, in contrast, has suffered major disruption. The event’s video library, a major feature, was closed for security reasons on Sunday morning. Screenings are available online. Mip Junior conferences are being moved from the Martinez Hotel to the Palais des Festivals.
As of Sunday morning, Mipcom’s harbor-side press and news hub, housing its press center and press conference suite, was flooded and was being relocated.
Mipcom’s major challenge may simply be getting there. A taxi service was up-and-running from Nice airport to Cannes by mid-Sunday morning. Arriving mid-morning in Cannes, AMC Networks’ Patrick Connolly, told Variety he had taken an hour in sometimes slow traffic to make the normal 40-minute car journey with his taxi driver taking an alternative route. However, by lunch-time, queues for taxis were stretching a few blocks at Nice Airport (see photo) and the Nice-Cannes car-trip was taking over two hours.
Train access to Cannes on Sunday was halted altogether. Passengers on a 9:19 train out of Paris were told the service would terminate at Toulon. Cannes railway station was closed Sunday morning as workers pumped floodwater out of an underpass, the water nearly reaching the top of its steps. It is not clear when normal services will be resumed. Paris-Nice air flights were fully booked up, preventing attendees from making alternative travel arrangements.
This year is not the first time that Mipcom has suffered from the weather: In 2007, it was hit by serious flooding forcing 25 exhibition stands to be relocated.
Leo Barraclough contributed to this report.