ITV Studios is the latest super-indie to bow out from October’s Mipcom market in Cannes — traditionally the largest annual confab for the global TV industry.
The production-distribution giant joins the likes of “Peaky Blinders” distributor Banijay, whom Variety revealed was skipping the market back in June, and content powerhouse BBC Studios, which also pulled the plug on its February Showcase event. Sources tell Variety that “Got Talent” super-indie Fremantle will also have a reduced presence at Mipcom, which is set to run from Oct. 11-14.
An ITV Studios spokesperson said: “Our long-term partnership with Reed Midem is important to us, but the current situation with international COVID restrictions means there is too much uncertainty to be able to commit to building our popular ITV Studios House at Mipcom 2021 and we will not be exhibiting at this year’s event.”
ITV Studios will instead lean into territory visits and the virtual showcases it has finessed over the last 18 months as the usual calendar of physical TV events and festivals has become non-existent.
“We are excited about the opportunity for our teams to spend time locally with our customers, and our strong content slate means that we have many new shows that we will be presenting as part of our extended ITV Studios Fall Festival this coming autumn,” continued the spokesperson. “More details will follow shortly but we are looking forward to building on last year’s hugely successful ITV Studios Fall Festival by meeting clients both virtually and face to face in territory, where possible.”
Despite the absence of super-indies, organizers say the show will go on.
“We understand the challenges of planning a major exhibition in the current circumstances and expect that some of our partners may choose to participate differently this year,” said Lucy Smith, director of Mipcom. “Companies are registering every day, and we are moving forward with Mipcom for everyone who is planning to be in Cannes this October.”
Mipcom organizer Reed Midem hasn’t held a TV market in Cannes since October 2019, having been forced to cancel MipTV in April 2020, Mipcom in October 2020 and again MipTV this past spring.
ITV Studios usually has one of the most prominent stands at the October market, with a container-built headquarters situated directly in front of the Grand Palais, where the company hosts various press events and all of its meetings. Its absence in the fall will be conspicuous to those on the ground who’ve become accustomed to the flashy outpost. It’s understood, however, that a handful of ITV Studios executives plan to be on site, depending on COVID restrictions in the coming months.
Ultimately, it’s the ever-changing travel restrictions due to COVID that have made it near impossible for companies to plan ahead for events like Mipcom. Travel between the U.K. and France, for example, still requires mandatory quarantine periods on either side of the English Channel, and increasing cases of the aggressive Delta variant continue to discourage fall travel. Furthermore, the almost guaranteed lack of delegates from Asia and Australia and New Zealand is also a factor for many companies.
Even the Cannes Film Festival, which concluded over the weekend having kicked off on July 6, had its share of tense moments as French President Emmanuel Macron revealed on July 12 stricter health guidelines for access to cultural and leisure venues along with modes of transport.
While Cannes was a success with a strong lineup of movies and key buyers from countries like the U.S. on the ground, delegates from the U.S. and U.K. (even those who were fully vaccinated) were forced to take salivary COVID tests every 48 hours in order to get the QR codes necessary to enter public spaces like the Grand Palais — an essential but oftentimes cumbersome task during what was already a busy festival.
When Mipcom takes place in the fall, it’s likely that organizers will need to think of similar testing schemes for delegates. If it perseveres, however, the event stands to be the first major international gathering for the TV industry in almost two years.