In March he said that postponing Eurovision 2020 would have been better than cancelling it. And now that the EBU has announced Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light — the official replacement show for broadcast on May 16 — San Marino’s Carlo Romeo is speaking up again.

In an extensive interview with Eurovision In, the director-general of San Marino Radio Television says that he pitched another programme idea which involved raising awareness about the coronavirus pandemic and also raising funds to help provide support and relief. He also questions why the EBU communicated the announcement of the cancellation through social media. “We found out that some of our partners and sponsors had the news before us, a direct member of the EBU,” he says. “Scandalous.”

Eurovision In: How did you react to the EBU’s decision to cancel Eurovision 2020 and what had you proposed?

Carlo Romeo: Here at San Marino RTV our first reaction was rejecting the contest’s cancellation and proposing holding it in October. When we were asked for an alternative proposal, we pitched a competition for the day of the Grand Final. A show that serves as public service, explaining the coronavirus situation country by country with a choral song as opening act, a competition, a jury and a televote. The direction we were aiming for was more like public service but keeping the competition.

How did the EBU react to your proposal?

They answered thanking us for the idea and explaining that soon we would be informed about their final idea. A show that would have incorporated some of parts of our proposal.

Shortly after they revealed Europe: Shine a Light. Some small parts of our proposal were indeed included, but they completely missed the central concept of the public service function, removing the competition which as we all know is the main appeal.

Have RAI also proposed a competition like you have?

These weeks RAI and San Marino RTV have been working closely. RAI worked on a project very close to ours, keeping the competition and the informative segments with an extra benefit aspect, as people would be able to donate to their national health organizations – something similar to “Musica che Unisce”. At this point here at San Marino RTV we completely endorsed RAI’s proposal, as we deemed it adequate for the current times.

Do you think Europe: Shine a Light is the best proposal the EBU could’ve put forward?

It is a completely inadequate proposal in its content, during these times and in its manners. It just gives the impression of an event that got out of hand. Without a contest, the appeal —as we all know— is almost non-existent and it won’t really be a show in the way it was presented, a way to unite European broadcasters that are acting together in this emergency situation.

How have your proposals been received?

The proposal to reject the cancellation and any form of cancellation favoring a postponement in October has had excellent responses from some Heads of Delegation, artists and producers who have been working on this since July. Regarding the proposal of the competitive format for May 16th, I believe that if all the stakeholders make themselves heard in the next few hours, as on Tuesday there is an important EBU deadline on this, we can avoid missing a unique opportunity. We need courage, a true European sense and not a facade, imagination. Above all, courage and ability to face the emergency. I don’t want to name people, but the ESC leaders, or rather I should say the ESC leader, whose adequacy I personally have been doubting for a long time given previous incidents, confirmed the unsuitability even under these circumstances.

How did you find the EBU’s communication regarding the cancelation?

We find it totally unacceptable that we were informed through social media. We hope that those who violated the rules have been inquired by those in duty and we would be pleased to have some news on the matter. We found out that some of our partners and sponsors had the news before us, a direct member of the EBU. Scandalous.

If RAI’s proposal was ignored what would you do?

Obviously we hope that RAI’s project receives its deserved attention. It is a beautiful project, certainly more solid than ours, and I am sure that France, Germany, Spain and all the others will take it into consideration. Sweden, as well as other broadcasters, have shown courage and imagination for May 16 with their individual initiatives, but in doing so, the idea of united European television comes out in pieces if you are forced to go each one on their own. We will most likely join for Europe: Shine A Light. However, we will continue to underline once again the inadequacy of the proposal as it was presented. We will continue, I hope not only us, to support RAI’s project or any other proposals that go in the same direction. Coronavirus cannot and must not repeal European television in any way.

Where do you stand on all of this? Do you think the show should have a “competition” aspect? Do you think the show should have a strong focus on coronavirus education? Let us know down below. 

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The Roop is On Fire
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The Roop is On Fire

San Marino-phobic lol

Joe
Guest
Joe

San Marino is a country that means an awful lot to me, especially that song. Watching them put their best foot forward in spite of their small size helped me overcome depression, and that song really lifted me up and reminded me to keep being positive. Different countries mean different things to different people.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’ll just repost what I said when “Freaky” came out: You wanna know why I love San Marino so much and root for them every year? 2018 was the first time I actively followed Eurovision from start to finish. Right around that time, I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life. I was very depressed and it felt like everything was falling apart. I wasn’t achieving any of the things I wanted. It all felt so hopeless. But I couldn’t help but look at San Marino, this tiny little country, who go out there every year on… Read more »

James
Guest
James

Senhit’s hometown of Bologna is only a bus ride away from San Marino.

James
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James

Serhat wrote the song himself.

Joe
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Joe

Hey now

Thorula
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Thorula

What excites me is more the show than the competition. Discovering new songs and artists, gathering European countries on one evening.
I don’t like the EBU idea, I think every 2020 entry should be broadcast in order to respect the teams. They worked very hard and some who may never represent again their country will have only a 20 seconds snippets? Not what they deserve

The Roop is On Fire
Guest
The Roop is On Fire

I have no problem about the contest being cancelled and if it will resume next year or so (we still do not know when the virus will fully subside). But he is right about the awful communication that EBU has given to them. Maybe this Carlo Romeo will have less complaints if EBU handled their cancellation announcement and decision professionally where all sides were set up on the table and acknowledged in the end.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Yeah, for all my defending the EBU, I can’t act like they didn’t botch the announcement and general handling of the cancelation. Maybe they didn’t have great options, but they could’ve communicated it better.

Xoxoxo
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Xoxoxo

No competition = virus defeated us.

Wildcat612
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Wildcat612

Competition = virus literally kills some of us.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’m gonna keep it funky and mention that Denmark, who were already putting precautions in place before DMGP, have handled the pandemic situation a bit faster than Sweden, who had a full crowd for Melfest.

Erik
Guest
Erik

Yep. Denmark and Sweden did differently. In Sweden we WANT a spread. But not over-exceedingly. We know it would happen anyway. But we want it to go slow. If the pandemic goes down and danish schools open again as proposed, well, there will be another chance for a new spread. The fact that the number of infected in China and other places has gone down does not mean it cannot come back. And to paraphrase some San Marinian, maybe it can return for October…

The Roop is On Fire
Guest
The Roop is On Fire

There are news that some of the people who recovered from the virus are re-diagnosed again (mostly from Asia but hopefully not in Europe soon) so it is better for the contest to be cancelled this year. We have no choice but to wait longer.

Sesil
Guest
Sesil

Better defeated than dead

Hipp
Guest
Hipp

And life goes by too quickly now not to be freaking it up
Freaking it up
Freaky, freaky, freaky!

yodenman
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yodenman

Apologies to all JESC fans but why couldn’t that slot be taken by the senior event. I fully expect everything to have settled long before November so Eurovision could have been postponed. Even if the 2021 event went ahead at the normal May it’s still ample time for the winner to organise the venue etc. It’s six months for goodness sake. I could organise that myself. I still think the cancellation was a knee jerk reaction which showed weak judgment. They should have held back until a full dialogue was carried out between all the countries. The decision won’t be… Read more »

Wildcat612
Guest
Wildcat612

1) There are some projections that more social distancing will be required in September/October, which would cause the same “do we need to cancel?” question again in the Fall. In short, there’s just too much uncertainty. 2) You’ve seen how slow the Eurovision hosting decisions are made… the EBU has to approve everything and their bureaucracy moves at a snail’s pace. Many Eurovision nations would struggle to host the competition with a year’s notice. Six months’ notice would be impossible. You may think your nation could organize that quickly (I doubt it), but try to get Lithuania or Bulgaria to… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

It’s a crapshoot. You’re either going to get a Portugal or Sweden who have the major elements figured out very early, or an Israel or Ukraine who are still operating by the seat of their pants at the point when all the major plans should be finalized. The Netherlands have had a plan for six years and even they inevitably had stumbling blocks. They would’ve had more if they could only pull this together in seven months. Imagine any country having this much to sort through in such a slashed amount of time. By September, you’re already supposed to have… Read more »

ESC FAN
Guest
ESC FAN

If they cancel JESC at least do so early and spare the potential kid contestants a lot of heartbreak. The senior contestants can feel disappointed and move on, but the kid contestants? Not so much.

Gurl
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Gurl

He’s speaking with most of us are thinking. EBU didn’t handle the situation as we would have expected. They just took the most drastic decision. It still blows my mind that EBU didn’t try to postpone the decision until Sommer to leave a door open for a reduced version of the show in Autumn, which could have been more than possible. It seems they couldn’t have the whole thing so they cancelled. These uncertain times needed more imaginative leaders.

stommie
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stommie

Every year at the beginning of the rehearsals all fans are eagerly waiting what countries come up with, because the sTAgINg seems to the most important these days. What song will be rescued because of an amazing staging and what songs will completely fail because of it. And now all of a sudden showing some music videos (what SVT is doing) seems to be the holy grail. If we had done that in 2018 we wouldn’t have seen Eleni anywhere at the top. And in 2017 Italy would have won by a landslide. And in 2014 neither Conchita or the… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

Exactly. Some songs just don’t have their full potential realized until you see them live. By the same margin, in a year like 2019, countries like Romania, Cyprus, Greece, and France probably would’ve done much better than they did.

Arrivederci
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Arrivederci

and in 2018 Eye Cue, Franka, Yianna, and Sennek would’ve had drastically different results

Joe
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Joe

Just going on studio cuts, I’d bet anything Belgium and Greece would’ve advanced over Austria, Cyprus, and Ireland. But they didn’t, because the first two weren’t nearly as good live and the latter three were miles ahead. That’s why live performances matter for an accurate result. For an even bigger example, look at the OGAE vote from 2014: Israel third, Austria fourth, the Netherlands all the way down in fifteenth place (behind FRANCE!).

Denis
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Denis

He is speaking what we all are thinking! EBU just showed it doesn’t care about fans and he is right to speak out against it. Any contest would have been good instead of Eurovision: Shine A Light on Corona!

Joe
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Joe

Denis, normally I agree with you, but you’ve been awfully hyperbolic about this whole situation. You obviously have a right to feel sad and disappointed about the contest being canceled. No, this isn’t a perfect alternative. But delaying the contest just wasn’t ever in the cards, and no solution is going to satisfy everyone. There are so many reasons why trying to do the whole thing virtually just wouldn’t work, and I’m sorry for you and all my fellow Eurofans. But the EBU really is in a lose-lose situation here and complaining isn’t going to make it any better. Take… Read more »

Denis
Guest
Denis

Oh EBU could have postponed it. They just choose not to. They could have said “we are tentatively postponing it til October, with a final decision in July” or something. Instead they went against tradition of having ESC every year. It is going to take a lot of time for fans to re gain their trust. I know I won’t trust them again. By this stage I am not even sure I will watch ESC 2021, for me they killed it when they cancelled it..

Joe
Guest
Joe

We still don’t know what’s happening in October! They sure as heck didn’t know what’d happen back in March, and we still don’t really know. Maybe it’ll all have blown over. Maybe it won’t. But let’s also recall that by October, the next season has already begun. You’d be asking the broadcaster that wins to organize the next contest in half the time they usually get, or else they’d have no choice but to make it October every year to keep things in balance, and that would just throw everything off. And JESC wouldn’t really be able to happen, or… Read more »

Denis
Guest
Denis

You dont need a year to make a contest, 6 months is enough. In 2017 it took three months to organize. No one cares about JESC. It can be axed, no one would care. And it’s 2020, EBU could have come up with tecnical issues to organize it. Their goal after all is to promote advancements. They just choose not to since they couldnt earn money from it. No I wont trust them, watch their special or look forward to next year. They deserve all hate they get

Joe
Guest
Joe

Evidently you can’t be reasoned with. You’ve got your agenda and you’re sticking to it. I’d recommend leaving and not spoiling everyone else’s good time.

Denis
Guest
Denis

Why are you suddenly running EBU*s errands and turned into their lap dog? Are they paying you? They have done nothing to earn our respect, love or defend of them. Nothing. They clearly show they don’t care about fans, artists or broadcasters. How they rushed to cancel a tradition without even asking it’s members about other options, or listen to them. Or telling them they cancelled it! .That is not how you run an organization. So why are you snuggling up to them..

Joe
Guest
Joe

They aren’t paying me squat. I just think your accusations are flighty and emotional. I do think they didn’t handle the explaining of it well, nor did they do enough to reach out to broadcasters, but I feel at least partially they’re overwhelmed with planning an alternative AND dealing with delegations AND answering fans and journalists. It’s a lot on their plate at once, and things are lost in communication. So I don’t think they’ve done an amazing job, but I also don’t think they’re being as cavalier about the repercussions of canceling it as you think they are.

MyName
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MyName

He is totally right!

Joe
Guest
Joe

Look, just as long as San Marino sticks around next year, I’m satisfied. But I don’t agree that it should be a competition. Even if we look at Eurovision as a friendly competition, Europe doesn’t need competition in these trying times. Celebrating all the entries as equals just this once feels like the right thing to do.

Kim
Guest
Kim

I agree. Having a competition based contest would leave a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths at this present time.

Milanolich
Guest
Milanolich

I agree. I don’t think the format EBU presented for Europe shine a light is the best one but I don’t want a competition, not in these tiring times. I hoped they would do something similar to Musica che unisce where all the artist had their time to shine and sing their songs or covers of other famous italian songs. I don’t see why we have to see snippets of the songs instead of really celebrating them

James
Guest
James

Postponement may have sounded like a good idea at the beginning of March but right as the pandemic reached alarming levels in Europe alone, such an option didn’t look so feasible. It wouldn’t surprise me if even JESC could be pushed to next year. I don’t understand this obsession over ESC’s competitive aspect though. Logistically, if you’ll get people from the 41 participating countries to vote on the basis of artists’ performances from home in one night, counting them all if there is still a working accounting firm scrutinizing received votes would be difficult if the situation does not improve… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

I also don’t think it’s fair to countries who never got a chance to do a proper live presentation or a big music video. Comparing a studio recording with a flashy music video to a rough live performance that might’ve been polished if it’d gone to Eurovision is inherently unfair. They wouldn’t ask us to judge based on, say, Lesley Roy performing “Story of My Life” on The Late Late Show or Ben Dolic doing his acoustic version of “Violent Thing” and considering those the official live performances. No, they’d ask us to judge the music videos.

Denis
Guest
Denis

Really? You don’t get why get people want a competition? maybe because it is a contest? That is why it has fans to begin with. The competition is the DNA of the show. Without it it is pointless to have anything. It would have been better if EBU just scratched everything and not trying to have this pointless special. They could have had a different kind of contest. Granted it wouldn’t have been the ESC we know but seeing the circumstances I think it would have been appreciated. We would still have a friendly light competition that would unite people.… Read more »

Denis
Guest
Denis

Really? You don’t understand the obsession over the competitive aspect? Maybe because it is a contest? That’s the reason it has fans. The contest is the DNA of the show, It is pointless having anything else if it is not a contest. Would have been better if EBU skipped everything rather than trying to host a pointless special. A contest of some sort would have worked, it would have been a different ESC but considering the circumstances it could have been praised..

Joe
Guest
Joe

Doing it that way would leave the same bad taste in my mouth as fan votes that include all 41 songs and consider that some kind of official result. If you were going to do a simulation of Eurovision voting, divvy it up and have people vote for the qualifiers and the Big 5 and the host. But how crappy would it feel on a special celebrating Europe coming together in the midst of a pandemic to find that people consider your song the worst of the year? I wouldn’t feel so harmonious, I’d feel really sad.

Denis
Guest
Denis

It wouldn’t have been an official result, think of it as an honorary winner of 2020. Why would it be bad taste? I think it’s more bad taste to force 2020 artists to sing covers and talk about how Corona has affected their country. That is not their mission..

Joe
Guest
Joe

Because a bunch of these artists are coming back, so that’s undue pressure on them to create an adequate follow up, and if there’s a winner, there’s gonna be a loser, no two ways about it, and that goes against the whole point. You don’t want to consider how Europe is coming together and looking for solutions in the face of adversity, which is the real goal of the special (apologies if the reason they’re facing that adversity isn’t palatable enough for you). You just want a duel to the death, which isn’t the point of Eurovision. Just don’t watch… Read more »

Denis
Guest
Denis

I won’t watch it. Anything that isn’t a contest or isn’t something that honours the 2020 songs I am either going to watch later or skip entirely which Is what I will be doing whit this. But you have fun watching these artists reminding you about Corona. Cause there sure isn’t enough of that..

Joey
Guest
Joey

We get it, San Marino is not happy. Get over it. Jeez.

Luxe
Guest
Luxe

The only delegation i support during this difficult time! i still miss Eurovision 🙁

Heix
Guest
Heix

We want competition!

Tajikistan
Guest
Tajikistan

San Marino’s constant whining gets on my nerves sometimes

Ashton
Guest
Ashton

He’s right tho…y’all better not call him attention-seeking because he is saying what most of us were thinking. Props to him

Toby
Guest
Toby

I’m glad he’s said this, and I hope everyone can show the EBU that we want eurovision in October or at least a competition, nobody wants to see old Eurovisions from 1980s, that isn’t content, neither is 15 seconds or each song, how is that honouring them? That’s disrespecting their songs by not showing them off, almost like your putting them in because you have to but you don’t really want to even though those songs are the whole reason we watch it…

Conor K
Guest
Conor K

This man earns so much of my respect for speaking out like this. Thank you Carlo Romeo! 🙂