RTBF, Belgium’s Walloon-language national broadcaster, has taken austerity a bit far. In an apparent effort to shore up its finances ahead of Eurovision 2011, the network is forcing fans to fork over a minimum of 5 euros each if they want to have a say in this year’s selection process.
The first round of voting is taking place on RTBF’s official site right now. Contestants have uploaded their song, and pictures and videos, and fans are “voting” by donating money to their favorite act. All contestants who amass 20,000 euros by the end of voting will advance to the next round. Wiwi doesn’t see any information about when voting ends: perhaps officials are waiting to see if anyone can actually amass 20,000 euros? At the moment the front-runner Steve Linden has just 2,285 euros.
Wiwi wonders what RTBF is going to do with the money. Do they have a ridonkulously elaborate show planned that requires expensive staging? Or are they merely funding the fat cats in Wallonia who feel they deserve a bonus for putting up with all the bad pop?
If the money goes to support Belgium’s Eurovision entry in some way, Wiwi would see this as preemptive P.R. If you recall, Irish broadcaster RTE spent 182,000 euros on Sinead Mulvey & Black Daisy back in 2009. They got eliminated during the semi-finals—and Irish taxpayers started asking questions. Should the Belgian entry flop in Germany, RTBF can argue that they didn’t waste taxpayers money. They wasted Eurovision fans’ money instead.