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Webby Awards ceremony canceled

The poor economy and fears about traveling are blamed for the cancellation of the normally flamboyant ceremony. Instead, the winners will be announced on the Internet.

The Webby Awards, the Internet community's biggest annual event, has become a non-event this year.

The poor economy and fears about traveling were blamed for the cancellation of the seventh annual ceremony, which was scheduled for June 5 in San Francisco. Instead, the winners will be announced on the Internet.

"With our nominees now reflecting a truly global Web, we're facing new considerations, especially in light of everything that's going on in the world," Maya Draisin, executive director of Webby Awards sponsor The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, said in a release. "Presenting the awards in San Francisco without all of the nominees present is not true to the spirit of the Webbys, so we decided to bring the Webby Awards to them instead."

The cancellation of the event reflects the downsizing Internet industry. The ceremony in 2001 filled San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House to a capacity 3,100. This year's event was scheduled for a tent along San Francisco's waterfront that seats 295.

Long known for its fast-paced presentation and colorful nominees, the awards recognized the best sites on the Web. The highlight of each year's ceremony was the five-word acceptance speeches that winners were limited to.

Nearly 90 percent of this year's nominees hail from outside the San Francisco Bay Area, including 24 Web sites from outside the United States, organizers said. Global travel has fallen sharply on fears of terrorism and the severe acute respiratory syndrome, which has killed more than 300 people worldwide.

How the awards will be unveiled has not been determined, but an announcement is expected in the next few weeks, organizers said.