Junior Eurovision 2017: Portugal among the 16 countries to compete with new online voting system

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It’s a sweet sixteen, y’all! Today the European Broadcasting Union revealed the official list of countries participating at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017. But that’s not all. Officials have also revealed a new online voting component. And we even have a change of venue.

Host country Georgia will, of course, be defending their crown in Tblisi. They won’t be the only country with a recent Eurovision victory under their belts though. Portugal makes its return to JESC after a 10-year absence from the contest. The country previously competed in 2006, when it finished 14th of 15 countries, and in 2007, when it finished 16th of 17 countries. But after winning with Salvador Sobral in Kyiv the broadcaster has new fire and ambition. Can they make it two wins in a year?

The 14 other competing countries all return from 2016. You can see the full list below, along with those acts already selected.

Junior Eurovision 2017: Participating Countries

On the surface it seems that we’re saying goodbye to Bulgaria and Israel, as the statement released by the EBU doesn’t discuss more countries potentially joining. However, it seems that may, in fact, be a possibility.

Bulgaria’s BNT also said that its fate has not yet been decided. In a tweet, it explained that it’s waiting for its new director general to be elected. Only then will it announce its plans for both Eurovision 2018 and Junior Eurovision 2017.

Israel has not experienced much success in the junior contest, despite conducting intense national searches to find its stars.

In 2012 it placed eighth of 12 countries and last year 15th of 17 countries. With only two participations under their belt, it’s perhaps not that surprising they haven’t made up their minds yet.

Bulgaria’s potential withdrawal would be far more surprising, as the country placed second in 2014 and hosted the show in 2015.

New Online Voting System

One of the biggest complaints about Junior Eurovision 2016 was the removal of a public vote. The contest was decided entirely through jury votes — a kids’ jury, a professional jury and then a three-person expert panel that included Christer Björkman.

Perhaps spurred on by this negative reaction (and low viewing figures), the public will once again have their say in 2017. The EBU has brought in a brand new online-only system, which will take place in two parts.

A pre-contest vote will run from Friday 24th November to Sunday 26th November. Voters will have to watch a recap of all songs online, before casting their vote on the JESC website. Voters can also choose to watch a one-minute rehearsal clip at this time to help inform their decision.

A second vote will then run during the live show for 15 minutes. The final combined result of these two votes will then form 50% of the overall vote, along with the jury vote.

New venue: Olympic Palace

Back in March Georgia’s public broadcaster GPB announced that it would stage Junior Eurovision inside the 10,000-seat Tbilisi Sports Palace. But apparently GPB and the EBU have had second thoughts, announcing that JESC will instead take place in the much more intimate Olympic Palace, which holds just 4,000 people. The EBU says it is “considered more suitable…for its numerous facilities for delegations, media and fans.”

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