German broadcaster NDR is about to tighten the requirements for entrants for the national final Countdown Grand Prix. “We want and we have to define ourselves from all those casting shows”, Dr. Meier-Beer explains in an interview with press agency dpa. “We will demand that every contestant has to come up with a professional video clip.”
Although final decisions are to be expected not until the end of September, the general line seems to be clear. “From now on, we are not a stage for amateurs anymore”, Meier-Beer announces. Referring to the recent flood of televised casting shows, he explains: “Meanwhile, there are more TV stages for amateurs than ever before. So it is only logical for us that we do not carry on in small with what has a bigger stage elsewhere.” Last year, the German national final had to face a huge drop in audience ratings, due to the direct competition of RTL's casting show Deutschland sucht den Superstar and due to the absence of well-known names in the final.
Still, entrants for the German final will be submit by the record companies and the final decision who is going to represent Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest is made by the TV audience, using televoting and SMS-voting. To prevent amateurs taking part, future entrants have to produce a professional video clip. “We are not talking about home-made videos which are aired on an 'Open Channel'”, Meier-Beer clarifies. “And because Viva is one of the big clip channels in Germany, a cooperation would come naturally. If, through such a combination, the entries would be given massive airplay on Viva, all involved parties would profit.” NDR also hopes to increase the chance for a top ranking in the European final: “The younger the audience, the more international their taste.”
Jörg Pilawa (picture) is named as possible new host for the final, which will be broadcast via ARD again. It is not known yet where the Countdown Grand Prix will take place. “Definitely, it will not be Kiel again. A relaunch does not mean to just change things behind the scenes, you have to visualise it for the audience too.”