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Series Mania cancelled over coronavirus

French drama festival Series Mania has become the latest TV event to be cancelled as a result of concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

The festival’s founder and director general Laurence Herszberg tweeted this morning: “We tried everything but unfortunately we have to cancel @FestSeriesMania. #SeriesMania must remain an exceptional event, this year we could not have offered it to you with the same ambition. Thank you for being so many who have been so loyal to us. We will be there in 2021.”

The French authorities’ measures to limit the spread of the virus were made stricter over the weekend as the number of cases in the country rose to more than 1,100, with 19 deaths. Those figures have since risen to 1,700 and 33, respectively.

Having previously banned indoor events of more than 5,000 people until April 15, the country’s health minister has now reduced that number to 1,000. A timeframe for the new rule has not been set.

With an expected 3,000 participants, Series Mania’s organisers had previously been preparing to go ahead with the Lille event between March 20 and 28, with some tweaks to the set-up and extra hygiene measures in place.

However, with France preparing to transition to an alert level that would mean widespread school and transit closures, plus travel restrictions affecting international attendees, this year’s edition of Series Mania became untenable.

C21 understands many speakers and delegates had already cancelled their plans to attend the event as concerns over the worldwide coronavirus outbreak continue to grow.

Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, said: “The Hauts-de-France region has had the honour of hosting Series Mania since 2018 and is already looking forward to welcoming the Festival, Forum and Lille Dialogues in an ambitious way in 2021, as well as its further development in future years. Series Mania has our total support, as well as the people around the world during this difficult time.”

Herszberg added: “This year’s Series Mania was an event not to be missed with an exceptional programme and amazing guest list. It is with great sadness that we have had to make this difficult decision. However, our utmost concern is for the safety and well-being of our valued clients, guests, and staff who have invested so much time these past few months.”

The coronavirus outbreak continues to dramatically impact the global TV industry, with this year’s SXSW, which was due to take place in Austin, Texas, from March 13 to 22, cancelled over the weekend.

It follows on the heels of the nixing of France’s MipTV last week; as well as Greece’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival; and the postponement of Canneseries to Mipcom in October, Rai TV’s Cartoons on the Bay in Italy, and Cabsat, the Dubai-based digital media and satellite confab targeting the Middle East and Africa.

Other TV industry events to be cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns include Geneva’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, APOS 2020 in Asia, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Hong Kong’s International Film & TV Market (Filmart).

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