IBC2021 Canceled As COVID-19 Spike Fueled Tech Firm Withdrawals


Following close examination of new COVID protocols from the Dutch government and consultation with key IBC stakeholders, IBC2021 recently declared that it is “firmly set” on delivering a safe and valuable event in Amsterdam from December 3-6.

Yet, that didn’t stop the flow of technology companies, including some of broadcast media’s bigger suppliers, from pulling out of the biggest event outside of the NAB Show for the global radio and telecommunications industries.

Now, with COVID-19 concerns at a new flashpoint across Europe and Northern Ireland going into lockdown, IBC2021 has been abruptly canceled.

In a brief but succinct statement, the event’s London-based organizational team said on Tuesday afternoon, BST, that the “in person IBC2021 event has been cancelled.”

IBC confirmed that the move follows “growing concerns” about the COVID-19 situation in The Netherlands, which has deteriorated over the past week. It also cited “feedback” from the IBC exhibitor and visitor community.

“The IBC Partnership Board made the decision today in order to prevent exhibitors and visitors from travelling to The Netherlands,” it said.

Now, with days to spare, IBC20201 “will now focus on bringing the content and technology community together via IBC Digital.”

As of November 17, a host of media technology company leaders were convinced that IBC2021 simply could not be held. One executive, who is based in Europe, noted that brand-new COVID rules from the Netherlands government would require the conference to strictly adhere to a 8:30-16:00 calendar. This would force attendees to find a restaurant to get dinner prior to a 20:00 curfew. Large parties, cocktail receptions and other entertainment-oriented soirees would also be in jeopardy, complicating conference logistics.

Fears of IBC2021 being scrapped first emerged in late September, when major vendor Ross Video announced its withdrawal from the event, delayed from spring 2021 because of the pandemic. On Wednesday, LiveU pulled the trigger amid sharply rising COVID-19 cases in Holland by announcing that it was pulling out of IBC2021, as “the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees have always been our first priority.” Dan Dugan, an American audio engineer, inventor, and nature sounds recordist recognized as the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer, withdrew from IBC2021 several weeks ago.

Then, on Thursday, came an announcement from resource management software maker Xytech. It, too, has withdrawn from IBC2021, and explained it did so “as COVID-19 infections reached a record high in the Netherlands and as hospitals became constrained across the country.”

Xytech Chief Commercial Officer Greg Dolan was very emotional in his explanation, offering a tinge of disgust with IBC organizers. “The IBC Partnership Board’s decision to proceed with the IBC show is in contradiction with the stated commitment to health and safety not only to exhibitors and attendees, but to the general population. We are disappointed and confused to see common sense has not prevailed.”

Then came word that streaming video company Broadspeak had cancelled its in-person exhibit, just as Viaccess-Orca had announced. RBR+TVBR then learned that Nautel made a late-hour decision to withdraw from IBC2021.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Netherlands has recorded 2.27 million COVID-19 cases and over 18,000 related deaths, Dolan said. There is a nearly 20% infection rate as of November 18.