The Edinburgh TV Festival was due to take place on August 26-28, but the physical conference will be “reimagined” as a digital event for the industry, with key sessions taking place online.
This includes the keynote MacTaggart Lecture, which was delivered last year by Channel 4’s former news and current affairs boss Dorothy Byrne, and the controller panels with Britain’s top broadcasting executives.
The aim is that the main sessions will take place over the same three days in August, but other events will also be staged in the months leading up to the festival. Organizers are yet to decide how events will be streamed online, although YouTube is one of the headline sponsors, so it is possible that the video website could be used as a platform.
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Furthermore, television freelancers will be able to access the event free of charge after they have been hit hard by productions being shut down across the industry.
Campbell Glennie, Edinburgh TV Festival’s managing director, said: “We have decided that, in the best interests of everyone we would seek to bring together, educate and support, that we will not be staging the TV Festival physically in Edinburgh this August.
“For the past week we have been in consultation with our board, partners and supporters to re-examine not just what we could achieve this year, but more importantly what we should be doing to connect, discuss and find solutions to issues both perennial and particular to the evolving challenges we all face.
“Television’s vital role in our lives has never been so present, valued and cherished, and so the team will be doing everything we can in 2020 to keep discussion flowing, talent supported and diversity encouraged. It will not be the Festival we know, but it will still be the Festival we love.”
Advisory chair and BBC Two controller Patrick Holland added: “I believe that Edinburgh’s role as a lightning rod for our industry is more important than ever this year. The key themes we’ll be discussing; the future of the PSBs in the UK ecology, the role of TV in the climate emergency, reflecting the diversity of the audience in who makes and is featured in our shows – are brought into even sharper relief by the coronavirus crisis.”
Edinburgh TV Festival’s announcement that it is canceling its physical event follows the Edinburgh Fringe Festival announcing last week that will not go ahead amid the coronavirus crisis.
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