Global Newspaper Group Cancels Congress in Beirut

Local Host An-Nahar Was Unable to Meet Funding Commitment

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NEW YORK ( -- The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is canceling its annual congress, to be held next month in Beirut, because the Lebanese newspaper organizing the event wasn't able to come up with the money to host it.

Leading Arabic-language daily An-Nahar informed WAN-IFRA that it didn't have the estimated $2 million previously agreed upon to cover the cost of the venue, security and other local expenses for the June 7-10 event "in the aftermath of the 2009 financial, economic and political crisis in the region," said WAN-IFRA in a statement.

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"It is with immense disappointment that we are forced to call off our events in Beirut, but it was simply impossible to go ahead without the commitment of our Lebanese colleagues, who were responsible for security and other significant infrastructural and service expenses," said Gavin O' Reilly, president of WAN-IFRA, in the statement. Mr. O' Reilly is also group chief executive of publisher Independent News & Media. "We deeply regret that we cannot bring these events to Lebanon, particularly as this will cause immense inconvenience for our members, but this is not feasible without a local partner."

The local costs couldn't be covered by registration fees alone, even though 700 people were already registered and a total of 1,000 publishers, editors and other senior newspaper executives were expected. It's the first time the event has been canceled since the newspaper publisher's group started doing annual conferences in 1948.

Some of the program will be transferred to one of the group's other events, the IFRA Expo in Hamburg, Germany, on Oct. 4-6. The World Editors Forum, which was supposed to take place during the Beirut conference, will instead be held from Oct. 6-8 at the end of the IFRA Expo. WAN-IFRA is based in Paris and Darmstadt, Germany, and represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

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