NDR says the ‘Europe panel’ is only for Germans…as 1,000 singers apply for national final

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At the end of October they announced their plans for choosing their Eurovision 2018 act, which will involve consulting a wider variety of music enthusiasts both inside and outside of the country.

And on Wednesday German broadcaster NDR gave us new details about their national selection process, including the surprising fact that the so-called Europe Panel will consist only of Germans.

The panel, which will include 100 people, is meant to represent European musical tastes. It will be responsible for selecting the five candidates for the German final and its members will evaluate every application and judge all of the artists wishing to represent Germany. But that’s not all: the Europe Panel will also take part in the process of finding the potential Eurovision songs. And during the live show they will also have a say in the outcome.

To find those lucky 100, producers have started an online survey and believe they received around 10,000 applications. Naturally fans from all over the continent hoped to make the Europe Panel. But after the survey came online last week, it became clear that was wishful thinking, as the whole survey is in German. This left fans rather confused.

But on Wednesday NDR’s entertainment coordinator Thomas Schreiber ended the uncertainty during the Eurovision 2018 Roadshow press conference in Frankfurt. Germany’s Eurovision boss made it clear that only Germans will land a seat on the panel. In his mind German voters already reflect the tastes of Europe at large, so there’s no need to look further afield.

“The scores of the German audience in recent years have always been very close to the actual result of the Eurovision final,” he said. “Therefore we are only looking for German people to represent the European taste in music for the Europe panel.”

Mr. Schreiber even told German website eurovision.de that he and his team have conducted analysis of the German votes in recent years taking into account factors such as other country’s televote patterns. “German televoters don’t care about neighbourly aspects,” he said. “In Germany, televoters are willing to give every single song the same chance.”

The team also revealed that it received over 1,000 applications from singers (the application period ended on Tuesday). Now producers will cut the number down to 200. These 200 will then be judged by NDR’s chosen experts and the Europe Panel. Only 20 candidates will make it to the next round, where they’ll attend musical workshops. A final cut will narrow them down to just five finalists. (In the final, an international jury will also have its say in determining Germany’s representative).

The press conference in Frankfurt was also the perfect opportunity to introduce journalists to Germany’s new Head of Delegation: Christoph Pellander. The NDR executive is one of the brains behind Germany’s new selection method.

Mr. Pellander also explained that the Eurovision 2018 Roadshow is something completely new for the broadcaster. He and his colleagues — namely Mr. Schreiber and the experts from digame mobile and the Simon Kucher & Partners marketing and strategy firm — are so excited about their promising selection that they wanted to hit the road to promote it. They’ll hold similar press conferences in four different cities to build hype among journalists and fans.

Is it a good idea to only let Germans sit on the Europe Panel? Can Germany finally reach the left-hand side of the scoreboard again in Lisbon? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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