As political protests in Hong Kong continue, hitting tourist spots and the city’s public transit system, the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), a trade body for the television industry, has decided to move its annual conference from Hong Kong to Singapore.
The organization, previously known as the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, announced the change in location late Monday afternoon.
“Over the last month, it has become evident that it would not be possible to hold a successful event in Hong Kong given the protests and disruptions we have all sadly been witnessing,” AVIA chief Louis Boswell told Variety.
The conference, which reported 500 participants from more than 145 companies at its 2018 edition, had previously announced that this year’s event would run Nov. 4-6 at the Intercontinental Hotel, on the recently renovated waterfront in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district.
In an e-mail announcement Monday, the AVIA said the conference would go ahead on the same dates but in Singapore instead, at the Ritz Carlton Millennia Hotel. The organization also extended its “early bird” deadline for discounted registration in order to give members more time to take the relocation into account.
A significant portion of Hong Kong’s population has been at loggerheads with the city’s government for three months, following the government’s introduction of an extradition bill that would have eroded the wall between Hong Kong’s Western-style legal system and that of mainland China, where courts are under the sway of the ruling Communist Party.
The Hong Kong government last week finally announced that the controversial bill would be completely withdrawn, one of the protesters’ key demands. But demonstrators said it was too little, too late, and vowed to keep up the pressure. Over the weekend, police used tear gas to break up protests in Causeway Bay, one of the world’s busiest shopping and entertainment districts, and fires were set at four subway stations.
On Monday, students peacefully linked hands and formed a human chain across parts of the city.
Sources say that AVIA recently held an emergency meeting of its board members to assess the situation. Member safety, disruption to the event and the threat of airport closures are thought to have been considerations.
Relocating the event from Hong Kong, where the AVIA has its headquarters, to Singapore is a significant loss of prestige for Hong Kong. The two cities are economic, social and political rivals that measure many of their achievements against each other. Singapore has also become the Asia hub for many of the international TV and streaming companies doing business in the region.
“I am very excited that we will be hosting this event for the first time in Singapore, the home base of many of our members,” Boswell said. “AVIA is here to help ensure the foundations remain solid, laying the groundwork for far-sighted government regulations, fighting the scourge of piracy and…providing the insight we all need to make the smart business decisions that will lead us all to success.”