The relaunch of the preselection format Germany 12 Points! has led to heated arguments between Eurovision modernisers and Grand Prix traditionalists, culminating in some sharp-tongued exchange of blows via the media.
The newly formatted German final requires interested participants of producing a professional videoclip and having it played on music channel Viva before they can enter. The new format succeeded in its goal of selecting well-established acts who stand a chance of success on an European level, like Scooter, and of ruling out participants who are not commercially successful even on a national level, like last year's preselection winner Lou.
Some of the more traditionalistic Eurovision fans and keepers of the ethnic German Schlager music heavily criticised this new selection method. Dieter Thomas Heck, former host of the legendary ZDF-Hitparade, the most successful Schlager show in German TV history, acted as spokesperson of the protestors.
In an interview in the left-wing quality newspaper taz this Monday, Jürgen Meier-Beer, head of entertainment at German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and the one who invented the modernised format, dished back. “One should name Mister Heck a traitor of the fatherland for wanting to equip an international music contest with traditional German folklore.” Reflecting on a recent debate about the definition of German culture, he added that Heck's choice of music would “strictly lead into defeat, the same way it would have happened to Russia, had they sent stalinistic balalaikas instead of t.A.T.u. last year.”
In today's edition of tabloid Bild, German representative of 1982 and the country's only winner so far, Nicole (Ein bisschen Frieden), came to defend Heck and marked Meier-Beer's comment as “extremely discriminating”. Uwe Hübner, who hosted the ZDF-Hitparade after Heck and until it went off air in 2000, said: “That's a bit thick! I like Dieter Thomas Heck for fighting for traditional German music.”
Concerning componist of many a German Eurovision entry Ralph Siegel, who seems to be the most prominent victim of the modernised preselection format as he was not able to enter a song in Germany (and instead chose to delight the people of Malta with one of his opuses), Meier-Beer said: “He was the first one who complimented me on the new concept. By the way I am hoping he wins the Maltese final. Then he finally could get some points from Germany at the international final. That way he would stand much better chances of success than usual.”