Eurovision goes global!

by Stella Floras 57 views director Bjørn Erichsen has spoken about the plans EBU has to ensure the growth of the most popular musical TV show in Europe, The Eurovision Song Contest. The Reference Group have developed a 2007-2011 a marketing, development and security plan for the contest which has already been approved by the EBU TV committee and has received a warm welcome by the Heads of Delegations during the March meeting in Helsinki.

The future of the competition looks bright as is, with its popularity growing steadily year by year. This has obviously taken a lot of hard work and foresight but EBU is not prepared to leave the fate of its "Jewel in the crown" as Mr Erichsen calls the contest, to chance. He explains the need for constant evaluation of the Eurovision Song Contest format; "You have to protect the core values of the contest (…) But meanwhile, you have to revamp, to attract new and younger audiences."

One thing is certain, that a great investment is required to maintain the high standard and expand, something that EBU is ready for. "We have developed an investment plan with 12 to 14 new activities, to be introduced in the next couple of years," Mr Erichsen says. Most of these activities will be behind-the-scenes but others will be certainly noticed by the general audience and the hard core of the fan body.

One of the most exciting projects is the contest's expansion to other world markets. "Imagine an American, Asian, Middle-East or African version of the song contest," Bjørn Erichsen says. EBU intends to license the format of the Eurovision Song Contest across the world. The possibility of a World Song Contest does not seem so remote any more. "In the most optimistic mood, in two years, being more realistic, in three to four years," said Bjørn Erichsen.

For 2007 a number of new features are scheduled. Starting with the Eurovision Countdown, a magazine-like television programme in three episodes. It aims at informing viewers on the latest contest related news, keep them updated on the preparations and offer historic background material. An other exciting – and highly attractive incentive for the participating artists- is the Winner's tour. This year's winning entry will be able to enjoy a Winner's tour, a sort of pan European lap of honour. Preparations are already under way with all participating acts confirming availability should they win.

It is a common secret that die-hard fans all over Europe love to collect and rewatch past Eurovision Song Contests over and over again. In a couple of year's time they will have the chance to do this online as EBU is working on a way to collect and put them up for the world to watch. "We want to be present on a number of platforms, and that is why we reserved budget to make that happen," Bjørn Erichsen says. "It's an old dream to put all historic Eurovision Song Contests on the web, but it is a complicated issue and there are a lot of copyright issues to deal with. We have set aside money to clear those copyrights, but it will take a year or two to complete this procedure," he concludes

What are the worst fears of the director? What is it that makes him sweat in relation to the contest and what measures are taken to make sure nothing major goes wrong? Bjørn Erichsen's number one fear is terrorism. "We are always deeply involved with security measures, closely cooperating with the host city authories who take security very, very serious. We don't see that as audience, and we shouldn't (…) but behind the scenes, there is strong security machine to take care of it," he explains. His second worst fear is failure of the televoting system : We declare a winner and the next morning, we find out that the winner is not the winner. To avoid that, we have triple backup systems, auditors before and afterwards, and we do everything possible to get that right," he says. In the unlikely event of a televoting problem there are always the backup juries standing by in all 42 participating countries.

You can watch the full interview here. (under EXTRA)

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Stella Floras

Thanks to Johnny Logan and Hold me now I fell in love with the Eurovision Song Contest, a love that's been going strong ever since with undiminished passion. My first memories date back to 1977 and the lyrics of Rock bottom, Dschinghis Khan and A ba ni bi are still engraved in my brain.

I joined in 2006 as a junior editor after being invited by Barry Viniker, I soon became Senior Editor and during the 2007 contest in Helsinki I was appointed Head of Communications. Today I hold the post of Head of Human Resources and I am proud to be working with the best editorial team in the world.