UPDATED: AT&T’s WarnerMedia scaling back its participation in SXSW 2020 in Austin, Texas, joining a growing list of companies cancelling plans to attend the annual fest over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
“As a precaution, WarnerMedia has decided it best not to move forward with activations at SXSW,” CNN’s communications team said in a tweet Thursday. “We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin next year.”
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Among other activities at SXSW, CNN had been scheduled to host event space “Citizen House @ SXSW” from March 14-15 with appearances by CNN political reporter Chris Cillizza and a Democratic presidential candidates debate watch party on Sunday, March 15.
A rep for WarnerMedia clarified that while it cancelled public marketing activations, discussion panels and screenings are still on track to happen as scheduled.
Those include panels for TBS’s “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”; HBO’s “Watchmen” with Damon Lindelof, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; and HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” with creator Robin Thede. Also scheduled are premieres of TNT’s “Snowpiercer” TV adaptation and HBO’s LGBTQ comedy “We’re Here.”
The company also is hosting an HBO Max session with Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, as well as a panel “Inside Innovation at WarnerMedia” with Jesse Redniss, GM, WarnerMedia Innovation Lab; Mark Yeend, director, product, interactive R&D at HBO; Greg Gewicky, VP, emerging technology at Warner Bros.; and Peter Scott, VP of emerging media and innovation, Turner.
CNN employees currently slated to speak at SXSW include Andrew Morse, executive VP and GM of CNN Digital Worldwide; chief climate correspondent Bill Weir; and anchors Kate Bolduan and Poppy Harlow.
Meanwhile, the CW’s planned “Supernatural” panel at SXSW with series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins has been cancelled, as has CW’s annual joint party with BuzzFeed that had been scheduled for March 14. “The CW is taking precautionary measures with respect to the current public health situation and have opted to not participate in SXSW this year,” the network said in a note to invitees. The CW is jointly owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment and ViacomCBS.
For now, SXSW organizers have said the music, tech and entertainment festival will proceed from March 13-22 as planned. Austin government officials said on Wednesday they saw no reasons to cancel the event and noted that no cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in the area. A Change.org petition urging SXSW to be cancelled because of the virus outbreak now has amassed over 49,000 signatures.
Last year’s SXSW drew 232,258 attendees spanning music, film, interactive, and gaming, according to the festival.
Events that have been cancelled because of the coronvirus outbreak include MipTV, Google I/O, GDC, Facebook’s F8 and Mobile World Congress.
To date, there have been nearly 97,000 cases of coronavirus infection and 3,305 deaths worldwide, including 11 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering’s coronavirus tracker.
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