A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Whatever happened to scaling down?

Apart from the actual competition, one of the big things that was unveiled and discussed in Baku 2012 was the new EBU approach towards the size of the ESC and the now clearly pronounced goal to scale down the event and make it more sustainable financially, ecologically and - basically - in every thinkable way.

This new plan of course sprung from the recent financial crisis that left a number of countries almost unable to take part in the ESC due to the heavy costs, not to mention it would be virtually impossible for many countries to host a contest that kept on growing and growing. More entries, more journalists, more delegates, bigger venues. Unsustainable in the long run. Like the Olympics.

Next year, SVT was the perfect pupil that played along with the new guidelines. Instead of the huge new arena in Stockholm, they opted for a much smaller venue in Malmö and other steps were taken to reduce the number of accreditations at least a bit.

Since then, we haven't seen much of this ambitious plan. Denmark decided to renovate an old warehouse in the middle of nowhere - not an inexpensive stunt - and even if the venues selected in 2015 and 2016 were no huge at least they showed no signs of the event getting smaller.

Fast forward to 2017, where one of the big financial contributors suddenly decides to use the upcoming final in Kyiv as a tool to push their own agenda. Russia was given a lot of space to challenge a perfectly reasonable piece of Ukrainian legislation and the supposed reason the EBU was so understanding was of course the large participation fee paid by Russian television.

Another reason to reboot the process of scaling down the Eurovision Song Contest is of course to be less dependent on individual participating countries. The EBU insists that the ESC is an nonpolitical event, but in order to be that it must also be independent and able to stand up and talk back whenever someone is using their money to push a political agenda into the event.

If the event was smaller and had a smaller budget, then it would be easier to tell a single participant to drop out instead of making trouble as their absence would leave a smaller hole in the overall budget. That shouldn't sound too bad to an apolitical broadcasting union.

Not to mention that it would be easier for Malta, Cyprus or FYR Macedonia to host the thing should they finally win.

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