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Avid Cancels NAB Show

CDC to Avoid Making Broad ‘Pronouncements’ on COVID-19 Show Cancellations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will steer clear of making “pronouncements broadly” about whether shows and conferences should be canceled or postponed during the COVID-19 outbreak, said Nancy Messonnier, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director. CDC is recommending “consideration of what’s going on in the locale where the event is being held, and also where people are coming from and what the event is and how big it is,” Messonnier told journalists Monday.

She was asked whether she thinks show cancellations are warranted during the outbreak. Decisions being made in Seattle “may look quite different than the decisions being made in a location right now where there’s not community spread” of the coronavirus, she said. CDC last week advised older adults at higher risk of serious COVID-19 infections to “avoid crowds” (see 2003090030).

About 800 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the U.S. through Tuesday afternoon. The 27 deaths reported were mostly in Washington state. Nevada had four confirmed cases, including two in or near Las Vegas, where the NAB Show is scheduled for April 18-22 at the convention center.

Both Las Vegas-area patients are hospitalized in isolation, said the Southern Nevada Health District. Two "close contacts" of the second patient, a woman in her 70s, were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, it said. NAB organizers said again Tuesday that “as of now, we are moving forward” with the show, “while continuing to evaluate the national and international situation carefully.”

A few companies and participants began to bail from the NAB Show late Tuesday. Avid Technology decided to "cancel participation in all trade conferences and other large face-to-face events globally for at least the next 60 days," including the NAB Show, said the equipment supplier. It will introduce its NAB Show products in an "online broadcast" in April, it said.

The Media Entertainment & Services Alliance is "looking to NAB for their word about how the show will proceed," said President Guy Finley. Several MESA events at the NAB Show will be converted to "virtual" activities, he said. The status of MESA's April 20 networking reception at the show is to be determined, "depending on the outcome of the next couple weeks."

The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition is canvassing members to "help us figure out" the group's LPTV Summit planned for April 19 at the NAB Show, it said Tuesday. Its coronavirus questionnaire asks if members are planning to travel to Las Vegas or their rationale for deciding not to attend. Coalition President Mike Gravino told us Friday he was planning to move forward with the summit, but closely monitoring the news (see 2003060047).

Trade show organizers “certainly should be careful about the timing” of decisions to cancel or postpone conferences, said technology law expert Nigel Howard with Covington & Burling on a conference call Tuesday: “A cancellation without valid grounds may constitute a breach of contract or trigger liquidated damages.”

COVID-19 “government guidance and orders obviously are changing rapidly, so the position can change almost day by day,” said Howard. He recommends communicating with contractors “to explore what compromises can be reached," he said, and that can be done actually in parallel with decisions” to cancel or postpone.