Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Second semi and a bit of Baku and the EBU conference

We’re in the press centre and about to go into the first run through of the second semi final. I’m looking forward to this; it’s a really string line up and there are going to be some tears before bedtime tomorrow evening, and they could be from just about anybody. Our seats tomorrow night are actually behind the stage in a tiny block there so it will be good to see it from a better angle.

I’m sorry we haven’t yet seen more of the city; it’s just been nonstop since we arrived, but I am hoping for an earlier night tonight (after rolling in at 7am this morning...).  Generally things are still slightly unusual for the western visitor but interesting for the more seasoned traveller. I’m being stopped a lot on the street to be greeted and welcomed, and people are really friendly. The city is clean, and pleasant, and like any capital one of contrasts. It has a crossroads feeling to it, with more Turkic influence than Soviet, which has surprised me a little, but perhaps not unexpected given a shift towards more traditional cultural connections that more recent political ties. I’m having a great time though, and would be happy to return here for a future show.

The EBU has held a conference this afternoon, and information is available here. The dates are announced for next year, 14th, 16th, and 18th May. There is discussion that the Contest as an event could be significantly scaled down in future with a refocus on it as a TV show, which may limit the possibilities for fans and media to travel to it, but may be a perfectly logical decision based on the financial burden of such a large scale local set-up. There are also rumours that – finally – the missing 1964 Contest has been found and will form part of the planned digitised archive to mark the 60th Anniversary.

Ok, we’re almost into the hall, so we will be back with you later.

Monty x


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  2. I thought 1964 had been found in 2003 in full and that the EBU were clearing rights issues... I remember at a dinner with a 'wan' San Siegel in 1999 the EBU were boasting about finding clips of 1956 and 1964 contests. I wonder why it took so long to surface?
    The EBU has been lucky that recent hosts have been in cash plenty countries. A future winner may not have such oil rich revenues to spend on hosting or building venues. The contest makes no money for the host broadcaster and justifying the costs in these economic times?
    How ironic if Greece win;)
    Indeed the big 5 broadcasters are feeling the pinch; both the BBC and RAI have gone through considerable downturns in finances. Could they do it at the same scale as previous recent hosts or find government support?
    I suppose scaling back the programme makes sense, but how could that be done without affecting the overall quality (we expect) of the programme? Cut a semi, relegate countries, alternate years?
    Personally, a death knockout round, with sharks and laser beams attached to their heads would attract more viewers!

  3. Hmmm... They should just make it more reasonable. No you don't have to build a brand new venue, no you don't have to break a record for the number of LCD screens and cameras swirling around,... It can be done with not that much money. Serbia hosted it pretty well (with a record number of participants) and it didn't break the bank. I don't think they should touch the semifinal structure or the Eurovision week, but they can try to stuff more into fewer days or have fewer rehearsals, and most importantly it must be OK for the host to provide decent technical/flashy conditions as opposed to always the biggest ever. I for one thought that there was too much background distraction yesterday that added nothing to most performances.

  4. You do get the impression sometimes that the host nation, a little like the Olympics, is trying to top the efforts of its predecessors. And who's to say that Azerbaijan won't reap enormous benefits from having the spotlight shine on its capital? (be honest, had you even heard of Baku before this?). In these straitened times it might make sense for the contest to downsize. But it will be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.........