By Patrick Avenell

CEDIA board member and spokesman Rob Sanders has launched an extraordinary attack on various media organisations who have criticised the 2008 CEDIA Expo, held last weekend on the Gold Coast.

In a letter sent to, Sanders compares journalists critical of the event to animals eating their young, referred to one unnamed news outlet as “incredibly stupid”, and described the actions of some reporters as “nothing short of gutter tabloid journalism”.

CEDIA has been under close scrutiny since the event over a perception that numbers had decreased from the corresponding event last year. Additionally, CEDIA director Steve Miller had been criticised for moving the event to Sydney for the 2009 expo, with a return to the Gold Coast in 2010.

Here published below is the complete letter, which was sent to our offices on CEDIA letterhead by Rob Sanders.

“Less than a week from the end of the 2008 Expo the staff, board and myself are once again encouraged by the many positive responses we’ve had from attendees, exhibitors and affiliates of CEDIA who once again journeyed to the Gold Coast for Expo. CEDIA Expo is the only exhibition in Australia that showcases our industry and does so from a not for profit organisation built by especially hard working staff with volunteer board members and dreadfully tight fiscal restraints. Despite the challenges it remains the only constant in our industry whilst other so called “more professional” event managers have come and gone leaving behind what can only be kindly described as empty promises.

“My tenure on the board has been crowded with many ups and downs, moments of joy, times of frustration and sometimes even anger. It is one thing to run your own business, it is clearly another to participate on an industry board and even more demanding when the industry you try to represent is pulled apart by individuals only seeking self gain. Ultimately we’re all in this for a dollar but feeding off your young is repugnant and eventually when you’ve eaten them all how do you survive then? I can’t imagine how much more successful we could be if our time could have been exercised hunting rather than being hunted, so now it’s time to finally slay our predators.

“There is no dispute that Expo is of course the largest source of revenue for CEDIA. Greedy individuals chastise the organisers of the event because their own attempts to start similar exhibitions have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Exterminating the competition is one way to make your voice heard when finally your ambitions are brought in the clear light of day. Successful people I’ve been reminded by such gluttonous persons only become so with voracity, treading on the toes of individuals and industries to quell their self indulgence and hunger for materialism. Not a view I or any of you would support I’m sure.

“When CEDIA announced Expo would be returning to Sydney in 09’ it was met with round applause. The response from its most vehement and vocal supporter of the shift was as always negative taunts and amongst other things to withdraw its “Pro AV Seminar and Luncheon” that would apparently host the launch of a vital information service into the fast growing PRO AV market. Unfortunately despite CEDIA promoting the event in the Seminar guide the organiser of the luncheon chose to abandon it due to a total lack of sponsorship. It wasn’t looking to financially sponsor the event itself but merely to put its name to it.

“In fact affiliates of the Association are encouraged membership to help grow the industry they survive on and whilst the majority help to support the Expo and CEDIA throughout the year there is only one that contributes zero to the Association. The only donation it makes and input it gives is to attempt to publicly humiliate the hard working souls that are easy targets for journalists who themselves are the subject of the most unethical deeds in their profession.

“To have a genuine criticism of an event is one thing, but to create "news" by knowingly
attempting to breach the rule of entry, and then to accuse the organisers of "acting like a
bunch of wallies" because they stood their ground is nothing short of gutter tabloid journalism. What makes it even more unbelievably stupid is when the stunt was also tried the year before. And then, in a further vindictive act, to accuse organisers of "refusing to issue attendance numbers", when they were clearly told that an official statement would be released in a couple of days once numbers were finalised, is, well, quite simply juvenile.

“Whatever happens from here is now beyond the control of me as an individual, the board and the staff, we do what we can because we have a genuine love for the industry and wish to see everyone prosper. None of us are perfect individuals but as an Association, collaboration and with cooperation our weaknesses are supported by the others strengths. There is a weakness in our Association that despite our best efforts to work with and combined strength we can not overcome. Our energy is being dissipated dealing with lies, innuendo and fabrications that are made to achieve one purpose for its solicitor.

“Instead of praising you denigrate, you discourage where encouragement was needed and at the end of the day we pity you because you will never earn the respect and appreciation of an Association that operates on truth and integrity.”