New blow for Edinburgh economy as TV Festival is called off

Edinburgh's long-running TV Festival has become the latest major event in the city to pull the plug on its planned programme in August in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jerry Springer was among the main speakers at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last year.

The Edinburgh International Television Festival, which has been running for 45 years, is long-established as the industry’s biggest annual event in the UK.

Largely staged at the EICC, it has grown to attract around 2000 delegates from around the world and is estimated to be worth more than £1 million to the city’s economy each year.

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But as with major other festivals in the city, it has been forced to go digital-only this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Previous guest speakers have included Rupert Murdoch, Simon Cowell, Kevin Spacey, Armando Iannuci, Jeremy Paxman and Ricky Gervais.

Jerry Spinger, Hugh Laurie and Louis Theroux were among the big names in the line-up for the 2019 event.

Organisers have decided to stage a scale-backed online-only incarnation of the event following crunch talks over the last week.

The festival will also be rolling out a programme of digital content over the next few months to help tackle the crisis in the broadcasting industry triggered by the pandemic, which has brought major productions to a halt around the world.

Campbell Glennie, managing director of the festival, 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. However, our industry is based on creative innovation and so too is the festival.

“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.”

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