Presented below is an edited transcript of an interview given by Laurine Garaude, director of Reed MIDEM’s TV Division, on TellyCast, a podcast directed by Justin Crosby from Boom! PR in London.

Laurine Garaude: MIPCOM has been the biggest week in the industry calendar for a long time. And the 36th annual MIPCOM is coming up [October 12-15]. We feel, more strongly than ever, how important it is to support the industry during this particular time. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to deliver this next MIPCOM as a quality, yet safe event, and also to have a program that really meets the moment.

The good news is that Europe is doing much better. Here in France, I’m sitting in my office, and it’s really good to be back. It makes a big difference to be able to see people in person. Of course, we work very well online, as well. France has changed in the last month. Restaurants are open. Schools are fully open since last week, and the cinemas as well. Europe is opening up to international travel. The French government has confirmed what we expected, which is that trade shows and major events [with more than 5,000 people indoors] will now be officially validated starting September 1. That’s not a surprise to us, but it’s always good to have that official confirmation. It’s really getting ourselves back, not to normal, but to the new normal, and defining what that is. As we all know, it’s really important to be able to meet in person. While we can all work really well online (and the industry is certainly doing that right now), there’s a need to meet in person, and it’s our duty to be able to deliver that in the safest way.

Reed MIDEM is part of Reed Exhibitions, which organizes over 500 events per year in 30 different countries. I say that because we are working together as a large group to define how to create and run trade shows in this “new normal.” It’s not an individual effort. It’s a collective effort pooling experience from around the world, working with trade bodies, medical experts, and different governments. Reed MIDEM is now working out the terms of what we’ll be doing in Cannes. This MIPCOM is probably going to be the first international market in this industry to take place. We take it as a huge responsibility.

We are now waiting for final validation from the government. We are drawing up the regulations [and trying to find] ways to do things that make sense. Maybe our rules will be stricter than the government’s. Within the show venue, we are regulating traffic flow and the capacity across the exhibition hall. We’ll be creating different entrances, and exits won’t be in the same place. There will be new design spaces in terms of clubs and lounges, [and] much more open space. The conferences will be run at 50 percent capacity. We will also be cleaning and disinfecting the rooms after every session. Facemasks will be mandatory and they will be available at various distribution points. There will be daily disinfection of all areas, as well as hand sanitizer available throughout the convention center. We are developing print-at-home badges so that people don’t have to queue and those who can’t print at home will have to social-distance when retrieving their badges. We’re looking at one-meter social distancing throughout the exhibition. We will be very rigorous about this as nothing is more important than health and safety. The show will be different. Our main focus is going to be allowing for buyers and sellers to meet safely. That is priority number one, and we will not be doing major events or big parties. Gatherings where you can’t have social distancing are not going to happen. We’re looking at smaller formats to see what can be done outdoors.

The good news is that Cannes is not a big urban city and it allows for a lot of outdoor spaces. We are hoping for good weather.

Many buyers have already signed up. Some territories may not be able to travel, [like] the U.S. and LATAM, for instance. We’re hopeful, however, that things will improve by the time the conference rolls around. But supposing that it’s not possible, we are certainly being flexible. And that’s why we are in the midst of creating MIPCOM Online Plus, which is to enrich the experience for people, whether they are in Cannes or not. It’ll allow for people who may not be able to be there to access the market in a different way.

The way we’re approaching MIPCOM Online Plus is as a very big content showcase. We will be featuring content from exhibitors who will have virtual space areas where they’ll be able to highlight programs that they will be presenting live in Cannes.  [These programs will therefore be] accessible to all buyers, whether they’re at MIPCOM physically or not.

[MIPCOM Online Plus will showcase] what is happening at MIPCOM — the world premieres, the market screenings. We’re also launching a new [live and online] event called the Global Upfronts [and we’ll make all the] keynotes available via video conferencing. The focus at this MIPCOM is the ability to do business.

The first MIPCOM Sustainable Development Goal Award [for climate action and protection of the oceans] is going to Sky Group CEO Jeremy Darroch. He will be in Cannes. And we are expanding the Diversify TV Awards, which will be in their fourth year.

[But] what about restaurants and hotels? What’s the protocol there? We’ll be preparing a document in the next week or so regarding all guidelines about hotels, restaurants, and airport taxis that’s going to be very useful. Just to give some examples, for the hotels, rooms will stay vacant for 24 hours between check-out and new occupancy. There’ll be online check-in and check-out procedures, and new policies for staff. There will be increased cleaning operations, and hotel officials will limit the number of people allowed per elevator. There will be social distancing throughout. There’ll be gel dispensers available at the entrances, mandatory wearing of masks, sanitary facilities will be disinfected several times a day, etc. And that’s just a partial list. I know taxis will have plexiglass, wearing masks will be required, and they will have gel dispensers.

We’re inventing a new normal, which we will be introducing at MIPCOM. But the whole industry is having to adapt and finding new ways of working. People may travel less and therefore will probably make choices as to when it’s the most effective to travel, and events that are the most efficient, that can be a one-stop shop, will probably have an advantage. And that is better than traveling all around all the time. People will travel less, but the need for meeting face to face will not change. People will continue to work digitally, more so than they were. We all see that Zoom really does work and that you can do a lot onlinemuch, much more than we had ever imagined. We put together MIP-TV Online Plus from everybody’s homes in the midst of confinement. People do amazing things online and we’re seeing many, many virtual trade events happening, and we’re doing our own versions of digital. It will continue to be a very important part of the mix and will not go away. Even when COVID goes away.

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