DISCUSS: Portugal’s hope for the “cheapest Eurovision ever” won’t affect the show’s quality

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“Cheapest Eurovision ever” — that was how RTP’s head of programs Daniel Deusdado described the network’s vision of Eurovision 2018 during the most recent episode of A Voz do Cidadao, a news show discussing matters of public interest.

By championing frugality and making it clear that the network doesn’t have to break the bank, he echoed earlier sentiments from RTP’s CEO Gonçalo Reis.

Speaking to O Jornal Economico on October 15, the broadcasting chief stressed cost efficiency.

“I can say today that we are going to make the Eurovision festival the cheapest ever and I am confident that our creative teams will develop one of the most interesting Eurovisions ever,” he said.

We should point out that he likely means the cheapest “modern” Eurovision, as it would be impossible to stage an event cheaper than the black-and-white wonder of Lugano 1956.

Naturally some Eurovision fans have taken this and similar comments from RTP to mean that the show will consist of singers wearing paper bags and singing in front of a fold-out cinema screen.

Writing on our YouTube comments section, in response to the above video, YouTube user The Cage Master writes, “Well, then I guess the stage will be empty and boring.” Hamza Mian seems to agree, equating euros (and Azerbaijani manat) to quality: “The best ESC was 2012 and it was the most expensive. So yeah: usually expensive means good.” Both of these comments seem to focus on the stage and arena. Baku’s Crystal Palace Hall was famously constructed for $134 million.

But much of the expense of putting on Eurovision has little to do with the actual stage. Writing on our web site, Hada points out that Portugal “can make ‘the cheapest Eurovision ever’ or something close to it if they already have the preexisting infrastructure.”

And they do. Altice Arena is concert-ready, having welcomed acts like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and One Direction.

Lisbon — where officials have also organised large-scale events like Web Summit and the UEFA Euro 2004 Final — also has the transport and hospitality infrastructure already in place.

As Hada says: “I have the feeling that in many cases the super big budgets had something to do with bad administration and improvisation, not just with having bigger and better things.”

Most of our readers seem to agree that cheaper doesn’t mean “poor quality” but rather “good value”.

“Cheapest doesn’t mean lack of quality,” L’oiseau writes. “Norway did it with a modest budget as well. Frankly I find that a very good attitude for a country like Portugal.”

“It’s easy to take what is said very literally,” James says. “I interpret this as allowing the host broadcaster to deliver a well-produced show without going over the prescribed budget, securing deals that make the most financial/cost-effective sense to put the contest together. Of course, a great deal of transparency is needed to show RTP’s capability to deliver.”

“Quality over quantity is the rule of thumb in this case. A modern contest need not to be made with more money than what is needed. Didn’t Sweden go under budget back in 2016? If SVT managed to produce a quality show without going over then so can RTP.”

On YouTube Andy Taylor says: “Cheaper is better — you don’t need to blow the bank to host a good show. Just have good hosts, a great vibe, hope for some great songs, and we’ll have a great week!”

And what do you think, Antoine Kieffer?

“People have to understand that the stage is not the most costly aspect, and a cheap Eurovision does not mean no fireworks or extras.”

“Well you can do cheaper and still do an amazing show,” Twisted French writes on YouTube. “There are also some ways to reduce costs. So I’m sure they will do great!! They can’t miss that anyway, after 50 years of participation!”

Do you agree with some of the comments above? Are you confidant that Portugal can put on a fabulous show while avoiding unnecessary expenditure? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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