In a press conference held today at the contest venue, the Turkish State Minister in charge of Audio-visual policy and TRT, Besir Atalay, declared the preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 completed.
Atalay underlined the importance given by the Turkish government to the event as a unique opportunity to promote Turkey in Europe: “This event is even more important then any other political summit or event due to take place in Turkey in the next month, such as the NATO summit in June”.
TRT's General Director, Senol Demiroz, thanked all technicians who have worked non-stop during the last month for the preperations and indicated that all work has been completed on time. Demiroz indicated also that the Turkish entry, the group Athena, is preparing a surprise during their stage performance.
While Turkey and TRT will be hosting the contest for the first time, the 49th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest will also feature some important changes: next to the installment of a “qualifying round” to enable the participation of 36 countries, the televoting system will be for the first time compulsory for all participant countries.
Demiroz said also that TRT was proud to have coordinated and organised all preparations exclusively using their in-house staff, without having to require support from partner broadcasting organisations. He mentioned especially the TRT Artistic Services Department, which was responsible for the stage design.
To demonstrate the magnitude of the technical preparations, Demiroz gave some figures: the light system has required a total of 85.000 meters of cable, 300 robotic light beams, 600 spots and 90 LED screens. Despite the size of the event, which has increased due to the higher number of participating countries and the additional qualifying round, Demiroz indicated that the cost of the whole event was significantly lower then the cost of the previous year's Eurovision Song Contest in Riga. This was due mostly to the use of TRT's in-house technical teams, which did only require the sub-contracting of limited tasks to external companies. He declined however to give a figure, as “spending was still going on”.
During the qualifying round on 12th May, TRT will transmit a “special hommage to ABBA”.