Luxembourg: Is there ever any hope of a return to Eurovision?

by Juha Repo 2,123 views

A new article has appeared in an English language Luxembourg magazine Delano about the Grand Duchy’s 20-year-long exile from the Eurovision Song Contest.

Rather than relying on age old rumours and assumptions about why Luxembourg has not taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1993, the author Neel Chrillesen has actually spoken to those who eventually decide on the matter.

We learn that the return to the Eurovision Song Contest is a recurring parliamentary question in the Grand Duchy, the theme of a hit sitcom and an issue that irritates the boss of the national broadcaster RTL.

So why has one of the founding members of the contest, and a five time winner not returned to the song contest after what many thought only to be a temporary break?

The issue was raised once again in the Luxembourg parliament last year, and the Minister of Culture Octavia Modert replied, according to Delano, that the country had better ways to promote its culture and passed the buck to the national broadcaster, as it is them who can enter the contest rather than states.

Many have assumed, wrongly, that the Luxembourgish national broadcaster RTL was no longer a full member of the European Broadcasting Union, EBU.

Alain Berwick, CEO of RTL tells Delano: Not quite so. We have kept our membership card and the cost of entering today is affordable. However the financial burden of hosting in the case of a Luxembourg victory is the fact that is preventing RTL of entering.

As we know the cost has escalated in the past few years, from the around 15 million Euro in Helsinki in 2007 to an estimated 100 million in Baku last year – this however included a newly built arena.

The president of the fan club OGAE Luxembourg, Eric L, tells Delano that he thinks part of the problem is that RTL is a private broadcaster and could not expect the government of the Grand Duchy to subsidise the event if they needed to host it again.

Also people have been saying that Luxembourg hasn’t got a big enough venue to host, continues Eric. But now that the Swedish organisers have downscaled the event I am sure one of our venues would indeed be big enough, he concludes.

But Mr Berwick of RTL is not giving the fans much hope: We’re not against Eurovision as such and we would have nothing against helping promote Luxembourg and artists here by participating, but apart from the fact that it would be too expensive to host, it just doesn’t interest people anymore. They prefer watching shows like Nouvelle Star or Pop Idol.

Some former Luxembourger representatives have also talked to Delano about a possible return. Jimmy Martin of the last Luxembourg entry in 1993 would jump at a chance to take part again. Eurovision is a contest between songwriters and that is why the comparison with talent shows is just not working, he responds.

Anne-Marie David, French singer who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1972 is as enthusiastic. I would do anything to get Luxembourg back. It’s a huge mistake to stay away. Thanks to Eurovision a country can shine in front of millions of people, participating should be part of the constitution, she enthuses to Delano.

The sitcom Comeback was aimed at a young audience and proved very popular. It tells the story of an 80s star Ronny Riff who wants to stage a comeback to the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, and was also broadcast by RTL. The fans hoping fiction meeting reality were disappointed however; the show remained just fiction.

The producer of the sitcom Bernard Michaux reveals that they did receive a lot of positive feedback about taking up the subject. We knew all along that RTL would not go to Malmö, but of course we would have taken the chance had they changed their mind, he tells Delano.

But in a note echoing the attitude by the RTL bosses he then concludes: Eurovision worked well with our young target audience because it’s trash.

OGAE Luxembourg is organising a preview event on Saturday 27 April at the cultural centre in Bivange.

Read the whole Delano article in a pdf file here

The last Eurovision Song Contest entry from Luxembourg so far below:

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