Sietse Bakker was kind enough to take some time out of a very hectic day to talk with us here at wiwi. And from this we got some really interesting information. If you want to know what's going on at the EBU, read on.
I talked with Sietse last year and published that at The Word from the EBU: Sietse Bakker on money, venues and change and at The Word from the EBU: Stuffing the Ballot Box and Other Scandals and at The Word from the EBU: Does the Voting System Need to Change? I didn't bother to ask any of these questions again, and many are still relevant for this, and future years.
Get Ready to Party
So get ready to party.
So the first step was to have them performing in the half-time show last year. That gave both parties a chance to see how participating worked. And they created such a superb half-time show, it demonstrated that Australia was up to any level of participation.
He then said many discussions then occurred this year, around the building bridges theme and the 60 year anniversary, and the desire to do something different. So they then had a lot of discussions about what participating would entail and what Australia would need to do. And about 5 weeks ago Australia met all the requirements and they were good to go.
I then asked if Australia was paying similar to the Big Five and he replied that "they're paying a reasonable amount." (The payment amounts are confidential, but I've always wondered who that confidentiality is protecting.)
Will There be Another?
My opinion is adding China one year could be incredible, both bringing in something from their culture, and it would guarantee the largest TV audience of any event that year.
He went on to talk about how they do want to bring in other unique events. So there may not be another outside contestant, but it sounds like they are looking to do things that are more than a special guest for the intermission show.
What Constitutes a Political Message Song
"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced, but I know it when I see it" - Justice Potter Stewart (describing pornography)
Fundamentally they don't want the song contest to be a platform for promoting political views or political messaging.
Ukraine This Year
He said that there is no way to do so now because it's too late to schedule another act in. He sounded like he liked the possibility, but that the scheduling is locked in. He also said that they have had numerous conversations with the broadcasters and they have strong reasons to not participate this year.
I then asked if they could invite Ukraine to be in the half time show. He said again, based on their situation, this is not something that they can do.
He followed on saying that they are continuing to talk with Ukraine and they hope to see them back next year.
The Running Order
The EBU then has to approve that ordering. To date they have always approved the initial proposed ordering.
Will Vienna Go Over Budget?
He then talked about the challenges Vienna faces. First the venue is in the middle of a residential area (so forget driving to it). They are hitting issues like where do they put the additional power supplies and other equipment they need for the show.
Second there are other events at the same time including a convention of 30,000 liver Doctors (yes there are over 30,000 liver Doctors). Sietse did point out that with all the excessive drinking during the event, we'll have doctors there to handle anyone having liver problems from all the alcohol.
He then went on to talk about his hope that with this increased transparency their integrity is now on the line. And that over time this transparency will lead to a better result. He then did talk about how this is a hope and what we're going to see is improvement, but we'll probably never hit a point where there are no issues.
Sietse then brought up the legit point that the tele voters have all these songs they're hearing for the first time and it's so many that they look for anchors for their votes. So when a neighbor sings, they remember it because it's their neighbor. That doesn't determine the vote, but it helps their neighbors, when the song is good.
What's The Most Interesting Change This Year?
He then talked about how everyone in Europe makes fun of Eurovision and how they want people to realize how good the music is. He said that Eurovision is one of those guilty pleasures where everyone trash talks it, yet then watches it.
He then went on to talk about Eurovision has become a giant media event, along with the TV broadcast. Eurovision will shortly have their 1 billionth YouTube view (that's Billion with a B!). Everyone talks about it, everyone watches it.
Or as an American friend of mine said after living in Europe for 3 years, no one even mentions it and then the week of the show comes around and the entire continent of Europe goes bat-shit insane.
It's Going to be Great
This was originally posted at wiwibloggs (where you can hear the video of the interview).