PBS cancels spring meetings due to coronavirus concerns

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PBS has canceled both of its major spring conferences due to concerns over the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

PBS TechCon, which focuses on broadcast and digital technologies, was scheduled for April 15–17 in Las Vegas. The Annual Meeting, where PBS presents major programming and engagement initiatives, was to be held in Seattle May 11–13. PBS declined to provide an estimate of the costs of canceling the conferences.

“In light of the growing concerns around coronavirus / COVID-19, PBS is limiting non-essential business travel. As a result, we have decided to cancel our upcoming conferences,” PBS said in a statement issued Friday. “Health and safety are our highest priorities, and we made this decision in the best interest of our colleagues and partners.”

COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has spread to 99 people in the U.S., and most of the cases are travel-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seventy cases have been confirmed in Washington state, according to its health department.

Attendees and exhibitors who have registered for the conferences or reserved spaces in conference exhibit halls will receive a full refund, PBS said in an FAQ issued with its announcement. It’s up to attendees to cancel their own hotel reservations and airline travel plans. 

NPR and local stations have also taken steps to mitigate risks of the coronavirus. Management at KUOW in Seattle, for example, has notified staff about best practices for protecting against catching or spreading the virus, including encouraging employees to stay home if they are unwell.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to cancellations of industry conferences around the world. As of now, the National Association of Broadcasters show, scheduled for April 18–22 in Las Vegas, is proceeding as planned, according to NAB’s website for coronavirus updates. [UPDATE: NAB announced Wednesday that it is cancelling NAB Show.]

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