We now know that Vienna will host Eurovision 2015, and the preparations for the contest are in full swing. Countries from all over Europe (and outside of it!) have the chance to compete, but several remain reluctant to do so—sometimes for political reasons, other times because they don’t have the money. We at Wiwi HQ want to see everyone at Europe’s biggest party! So here’s a review on the status of all those countries who decided not to participate in Copenhagen. Let’s all channel positive vibes and get them in the game, ok?
Here’s the report from wiwibloggers James Puchowski in Scotland and Daphne Dee in Belgium.
Potential returning countries
Let’s start with nations that have previously competed and subsequently bowed out.
Even though Luxembourg was part of the first handful of nations to participate at Eurovision, Radio Téle Luxembourg decided to pull out of the contest in 1994. Copenhagen marked a 20-year absence. It appears that there is no longer sufficient demand to return to Eurovision in the microstate. How do they cope in Luxembourg without Eurovision?
Eurovision fan sites ask RTL whether they would like to come back every year, but the response has always been negative—including for 2015. The cost of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is something which could be holding Luxembourg back, though it’s pretty clear that the broadcaster can afford the participation fee. In 2014 San Marino qualified for the final for the first time, exploding the argument that microstates just can’t make it anymore.
Former Yugoslav Republics: Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia
Serbia’s RTS withdrew from the 2014 edition of Eurovision citing financial difficulties. The rising cost of participation fees and the financial realities of hosting the contest are two major hurdles. However, over the summer RTS announced that it will participate in the upcoming edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Could it be greasing the wheels — and its choreographers, songwriters, and publicists — in preparation for Eurovision 2015? Seems likely.
Croatia’s HRT withdrew this year as well, leaving Croatian musicians and Eurofans disappointed—even if they had failed to qualify for the final on a number of occasions. Officials from the state broadcaster seemed quite upset to leave and have stated that they are more than happy to come back for the 2015 edition, but only if finances allow that to happen.
For a moment we were excited to hear that after Bosnia & Herzegovina’s brief absence from Eurovision in 2013 that they would be back… and then they withdrew again. State broadcaster BHRT has stated that it has been unable to attain enough sponsorship for the participation fee, even though other companies and broadcasters did offer to help. Hmmm.
Czech Republic and Slovakia
Czech broadcaster CT was not pushed to withdraw due to economic factors. Instead, three failed attempts in the semi-finals (with gypsies, a lady in tin foil and a scary rock band) led to poor viewing figures and a general lack of interest from the public. On 30 July it emerged that they won’t be making a comeback.
Slovakia’s RTVS dropped out after the 2012 contest, when Max Jason Mai failed to reach the final, despite having biceps the size of our heads. Statements from the broadcaster have clarified that the funding for Eurovision will be spent elsewhere – it’s a shame, considering that after Czechoslovakia split in 1992, Slovakia was extremely eager to take part.
As we previously reported, the microstate tax-haven of Andorra will definitely not return to Eurovision in 2015 – it seems that the qualification of San Marino in Copenhagen has not changed the mindset of the people at Andorra Difusió. A statement on their website’s Eurovision page made it clear that the possibility of returning is not being considered at the moment. As the only state in Europe which speaks Catalan officially, Andorra is missing out on a rare opportunity to broadcast their language to Europe. Llàstima!
Turkey’s an odd one. Despite generally high results at the contest, TRT withdrew in 2013. It looks certain that we won’t see them again. Citing unfair voting procedures and the pre-qualification of the Big Five to the final, the broadcaster wants to see changes that would put all nations on equal footing.
Last fall uneven ground led them to introduce ‘Turkvision’ – a Eurovision alternative proposed by TRT where Turkic nations and communities share their own languages and culture in song, strengthening pan-Turkic ties.
Others have suggested that the Turkish broadcaster is growing increasingly nervous about showing a contest that allows LGBT-friendly acts that feature two women kissing and drag queens. The liberal and open path that the Eurovision Song Contest is currently taking just doesn’t appeal. But we want Turkey back anyway. Who else will make our hearts go “düm tek tek”?
1980 saw the debut of an unlikely entrant — Morocco. It marked the first time we heard Arabic sung at the Eurovision Song Contest. With the host broadcaster stating that it would never return after its 18th place in the final, it appears that unless the alternative broadcaster 2MTV gets EBU membership and goes for Eurovision, we won’t be seeing Morocco for a while. Whilst a return hasn’t been ruled out, it’s unlikely.
Failing to qualify on three occasions after its return in 2004, and after having presented Europe with its “Coco Dance”, Monaco has stayed away — despite its long history as a dedicated participating nation. It appears that TMC has little financial support, which is surprising given how rich the principality is. The EBU works hard year after year to woo countries like Monaco back, but we won’t see a return in 2015. Monaco has already said no thank you.
Bulgaria’s national broadcaster, BNT, was pretty blunt when it withdrew in 2013, citing the increase in the price of the participation fee. But they gave us hope earlier this summer when they confirmed they will participate at Junior Eurovision in Malta this November. Apparently the state broadcaster will be working in conjunction with a private broadcaster. Are they testing the waters for Eurovision? We certainly hope so. (A friend of ours who works closely with the state broadcaster claims they’ll be back).
Debuting countries at Eurovision 2015?
Now let’s take a look at countries that haven’t yet participated, but could…
North Africa: Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia
Algeria has 3 broadcasters with EBU standing which could participate: ENTV, ENRS and TDA. There also appears to be a small number of ESC fans in the country, who form part of the OGAE – Rest of the World group. The potential’s there. Libya’s ‘National Channel’ could also submit an application. But as the country is currently recovering from its 2011 revolution, it’s not likely. The same goes for Egypt — the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) is an associate EBU member.
Tunisia showed interest in 1977. Several preparations for a national final were made, but for unknown reasons Tunisia decided to withdraw in the months before the contest. Although never confirmed, rumours swirled that the government was not allowed to broadcast Israel’s performance because of existing legislation. The chances that Tunisia will return are small and the Tunisian government hasn’t made any attempt to return (although still an active member).
Lebanon was actually really close to participating in 2005. Sadly, this turned out to be one of the most turbulent bids in recent ESC history. Broadcaster ‘Télé Liban’ announced their participation at Eurovision in 2005. The French song ‘”Quand tout s’enfuit” was selected internally, and would be sung by Aline Lahoud.
However, the broadcaster refused to include Israel on the list of participating nations on its web site, suggesting that not all of the performances would be broadcast. The EBU saw no other option than to ban Lebanon from the contest for three years. The country hasn’t attempted to return.
Qatar shows genuine interest in Eurovision. Qatar Radio has been an associate member of the EBU since 2009. That year broadcaster ‘Qatarbroadcast’ sent a small delegation of ‘Qatar Radio’ to Moscow for the radio show ‘12pointsQatar’. Presented by Haytham Jawhari and Martin, the show attracted quite a few listeners, and Qatar’s interest to become an active EBU member grew more serious.
Rumours had it that Qatar would participate in 2011—didn’t happen. But interest remains. If the EBU decides to grant Qatar active EBU membership, Qatar could very well début at the contest.
This microstate, located just between Switzerland and Austria, is one of the last European countries that has never participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. It did make an attempt in 1976 (with Biggi Bachmann and “Little Cowboy”). But without an EBU-accredited broadcaster, this just couldn’t work.
2008 saw the launch of Liechtenstein’s first broadaster – 1FLTV – though it’s unlikely that Liechtenstein will join the Eurovision family soon. According to managing director of 1FLTV Peter Kölbel, there simply aren’t the funds, especially if their government refuses to contribute financially. Perhaps the broadcaster is trying to convince the government to cough up some cash?
Kazakh state television has been broadcasting Eurovision since 2010, so the enthusiasm is there! There was a strong rumour going around in 2013 that Kazakhstan would be present in 2014, and we all know how that turned out. Should we get our hopes up again in 2015? Absolutely. Astana 2016!
Australia (though the distance might be a problem!)
Evidently Australia has a large number of Eurovision fans. So the country had the honour of being the interval act at Eurovision 2014. It also had its own press conference in Copenhagen, making it the only non-participating country with that honour. Despite the time difference, around 2 million Aussies watch the show every year. For many, it’s a possibility to re-connect with their European roots.
Although a trip to Sydney or Melbourne is tempting, this doesn’t seem very practical. The fanbase, the EBU delegation, the press—there is no way all these folks are gonna travel halfway around the globe.
Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao and Sint-Maarten
The Kingdom of the Netherlands technically contains four countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Sint-Maarten and Curaçao. It’s legally possible for the Kingdom of The Netherlands to participate. The advantage could be that the contest would increase its popularity in South America and the four countries could share the costs. Also, the islands have their fair share of musical flair. Perhaps the Netherlands could give this a try? Why not a sunny Caribbean tune with a guitar solo?
Willemstad, the sunny capital of Curacao, would not be a bad choice, but perhaps it’s a bit far for a Eurovision Song Contest. None of the three countries have the resources for an active EBU membership of their own.
Scotland (if independent)
Scotland has tried to participate in the past, but all attempts failed because the BBC has exclusive rights to represent the United Kingdom as a whole. However, the EBU would be willing to let Scotland apply for EBU membership (active or associate) through another broadcaster.
The referendum on Scottish independance will take place in September 2014. The proposed Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) in the independence white paper will provide the means for the first Scottish entry after the integration of the Scottish division of the BBC.
Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV) is an active member of the EBU and can apply for membership, but the country shows no interest. There might be more interest if more countries from the region took part, but that seems unlikely. It’s not yet clear how Israel’s potential withdrawal could affect the situation.
The legal position on Kosovo’s statehood remains unclear, and therefore it’s unlikely that the country will enter any time soon. One of the requirements to become an EBU member is UN membership, which the country doesn’t have. That said, the EBU did make an exception once: Kosovo participated in the 2011 Eurovision Young Dancers contest.
The Kosovarian broadcaster RTK and EBU signed an agreement in 2013, which gave Kosovo the status of observer. Kosovo doesn’t lack possible entries, seeing that there are videos which carry titles like ‘Eurovision Song Contest 2013 Kosovo‘ on Youtube. The Eurovision fanbase in Kosovo is significant and the call for membership from fans could motivate RKT to keep working on its membership.
Catalonia (if independent)
As with Scotland, Catalonia could one day declare independence from Spain. It’s a hot topic and we know that it won’t be easy. But, as Andorra isn’t coming back any time soon, a prospective Catalonian participation would be a good platform for Catalan culture and language. With Portugal being an uncertain factor, sometimes deciding to skip a year, Catalonia could be a welcome addition from southern Europe. It’s clear that Catalonia has a rich musical heritage to bring to the table.
Catalonia has six channels, but TV3 (Televisió de Catalunya) is the most likely choice. However, the broadcaster has faced some budget cuts in recent years, and it’s not clear if the broadcaster could fund participation.
What do you all think? Which countries do you hope return for Eurovision 2015 in Austria?