The Austrian broadcaster will not be sending a representative to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 according to a press release issued today. The broadcaster seems to have trouble drumming up interest in the Song Contest amongst its viewers in recent years. However the broadcaster says political questions about the semi-final organisation of the contest are at the root of their decision to not participate this year.
According to Edgar Bohm, entertainment head for the Austrian public broadcaster, there are still too many open questions regarding the two semi-finals in 2008 for ORF to commit now to sending an entry.
"We must send our application to the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 right now, but at this time important points … have not been clarified," Bohm said. While it's clear that there will be two semi-finals in 2008, the entertainment chief said that ORF is not sure how the countries will be divided into the two semis. As esctoday.com has previously reported, the Eurovision Broadcasting Union (EBU) that organizes the competition plans to assign countries to "pots" based on statistical patterns and other criteria. These "pots" would be used to determine the participants of the two semis. However, ORF points out that the procedure has not been finalised. "We could still find a division between East and West, and that variation is certainly out of the question for us."
The ORF programme director Wolfgang Lorenz added, "The Song Contest is clearly a sign of the complicated nature of a united Europe. We've already seen in 2007 that it's not the quality of the song, but the country of origin that determines the decision."
In recent years the quality of the Austrian entries have failed to impress many viewers. However the ORF programme director has gone on record saying, "As long as the the Song Contest is a political parade ground and not an international entertainment programme, ORF has no desire to send more talent out of Austria to a competition where they have no chances."
"Should the situation change, we'll be happy to take part again," the programmer director finished.