He’s the former Head of Delegation who took the singer-songwriter Joci Pápai and metalcore band AWS to Eurovision. Now, after leaving the Hungarian broadcaster following ESC 2019, Lőrinc Bubnó has given an in-depth interview about the challenges he faced and given his assessment of Hungary’s withdrawal from the contest.
Bubnó made his remarks when speaking with former Czech HoD Jan Bors, as part of his Humans of Eurovision interview series. Bors is speaking with several different people from the world of the song contest, from Iceland’s HoD Felix Bergsson to Wiwibloggs editor William Lee Adams. You can watch the full interview with Bubnó below. The text that follows highlights the key points.
Hungary: Former Head of Delegation on Eurovision withdrawal
After leading the Hungarian delegation for three consecutive seasons, Bubnó left the broadcaster citing personal reasons. Nowadays, he’s both the manager and a member of the eight-piece vocal ensemble called “St. Ephraim Male Choir“, and he also runs his own solo looping project called Nomique.
Asked about his experience as an HoD, Lőrinc said that he didn’t follow the contest beforehand, but really enjoyed being involved once he got stuck in.
“Funnily enough, I didn’t have a TV background, I have a radio background — I was producing radio shows for years, before being transferred to the international relations department of the broadcaster MTVA. Funnily enough, the producer of the national selection show isn’t the head of the delegation as well, even though in my opinion it should be. Initially, I was not supposed to be involved in the creative process, as head of delegation there was perceived as a managerial job, but of course, I couldn’t handle myself.”
“In 2016 I was just closely following the selection show, as I didn’t know anyone yet, and because it’s obviously also teamwork, it’s never up to one single person. So the big thing for me was getting to know the people who make things happen and designing the product that’s put on the Eurovision stage, and also the people working at Eurovision itself, as it’s much easier to harmonize your ideas with your own team and with them as well if you have a good connection.”
“So overall, it was a big learning experience for me, because I’ve never worked on such a huge production before, and although I obviously had my own prejudices about Eurovision, when I was put in the middle of the whole thing, I was like, ‘you can say anything [about Eurovision], but this is television at its best.'”
Regarding the aforementioned biases, Bubnó said the prevailing public opinion in Hungary — among musicians in particular — is that “Eurovision songs mostly suck”.
“That is also the reason why not too many great bands from Hungary entered the national selection because they didn’t view the contest as something that could change their career for the better. I don’t agree with it anymore because Eurovision songs don’t suck as people think. There are more than 40 songs each year, and listening to them all I have always found a lot of great ones.”
Lőrinc also highlighted the Czech Republic’s 2019 representative Lake Malawi as an example of an alternative pop band being true to themselves and doing well at Eurovision, similar to AWS the previous year: “We didn’t want to turn them into a ‘Eurovision act’ — we just let them do their own thing, and it worked.”
Asked about A Dal, Lőrinc said that he would change many things about the show if it were up to him, including giving the public more say in the result and involving the international audience as well.
“One element I would change is that we wouldn’t pair performers with songwriters — we’d opt for singer-songwriters instead, which would be better at Eurovision itself too. I’d also hire a PR company to give the entire thing decent marketing, to make musicians believe that this is an opportunity which is good for their careers, showing their own songs to an audience of 200 million people, and they should go and take part regardless the result, and bloody forget the stereotypes and biases about the contest.”
“I would also add a camp where we would prepare these people for the live arena show setting. It would be good to involve a show with live instruments or a chance for the acts to alter their songs during and even after the show, instead of performing the same song the same way three times in a row.”
Bubnó explained his personal reasons for leaving MTVA: “I decided to leave because my son was born the previous year, I did the same amount of work at the St. Ephraim Choir as well, where we had 120 concerts per year, so although I loved being head of delegation, I had to save my family life. I wanted to see my son growing up, and to make more music, so I had to choose.”
Why did Hungary withdraw from Eurovision?
Regarding Hungary’s absence from both the canceled and the upcoming editions of Eurovision, Lőrinc hinted that there could be two main reasons for Hungary withdrawing from the contest: Money and attitudes toward the LGBT community.
“I didn’t know that we won’t continue taking part when I left, since I didn’t talk to anyone from the management. Honestly, since I didn’t talk to the management ever since, I’m not sure about the reasons, but I think it’s two-fold.”
“One reason is the money, since taking part at Eurovision costs a lot of money, and as we’re not too rich as a country, if there’s something to cut that they don’t think that it does good for the country’s image, then it’s pretty sure that they’re going to cut this.”
“On the other hand, and this is not just the broadcaster, but Hungarians still need some time to be ready to accept the LGBTQ community. And personally I think it is a big deal nowadays in Hungary, like people do give a sh*t about your sexual orientation, and I don’t agree with it. It’s really not a big deal, like, the fact that someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer has nothing to do with how they think, what kind of people they are. Of course, not everyone shares my opinion, but that’s rather the older generations of Hungarians. But I think that this is a stigma in most of the post-Communist countries and we all are struggling with it, and it might take some time until people will be more open about this topic.”
What do you think about Lőrinc’s thoughts? Is he right about MTVA’s absence from Eurovision? Do you like his looping project? Sound off in the comments below!
Actually, I do have a serious question: How popular is the Eurovision Song Contest in Hungary?
Both opinions and viewership statistics are welcome. 🙂
My comment was too hot for this filter. Oh yeah.
my dear wiwibloggs people, Andras Kallay Saunders (Hungary ESC2014 artist) released a new song ”coming home” he admitted he would’ve want to represent Hungary with it at ESC2021, if their broadcaster decided to take part
participating countries should accept the eurovision’s inclusivity and equality values and adapt to them, not the other way round… if their homophobia is their reason for withdrawal they can stay outta this.
It’s been a while, Polegend. I hope you’re doing well.
doing great! thank you dear!<3
Gays love Eurovision and I am so proud I share my love of Eurovision with the community.
Putting aside the elephant in the room for a sec, Lörinc says a lot of interesting things in this interview. I totally agree with his views about how it’s bad to try to “shape” an alternative artist/band as “an Eurovision act”, how the pairing of an artist with a previously picked song is unnatural (I’m not saying it won’t work sometimes), that national finals should give more space to singer-songwriters and how desperately A Dal needed to give more power to its audience. I also like the idea of a PR campaign to show artists that there’s good music in… Read more »
I thought I was the elephant in the room. 🙂 Just kidding.
It’s already difficult to ignore the elephant in the room. Imagine if he was wearing a purple mask!
I guess the problem is that in many countries artists still fear to be stigmatized by participating on the contest, since there’s still this image that Eurovision is too kitsch. Also, in some there’s some pressure on the artists’ shoulders and not qualifying to the semi or getting near to the bottom in the final generate a lot of bad press, even when it’s not the artist’s fault. What a good PR campaign could do is to focus on the positive, especially the fact that you can reach by a single performance an audience that normally you may won’t reach… Read more »
I don’t know anything about the socio-political agenda in Hungary so I’ll just focus on the music and the ESC-side. A Dal, as a selection, wasn’t working for a while. Hungary were coming up with decent ESC entries because of the quality of the acts in their selection as a whole, rarely because they were picking the best song. A result like 2019 was long overdue and should’ve been cause for revising their selection format and reducing the amount of power that those ridiculous judges on A Dal have. Instead, Hungary got a bad result, took their ball and went… Read more »
Not picking the best song is hardly a problem as long as all options are decent at least. Just think of those poor people in UK. 😉
To add something explicitly political (and I don’t mean to break any downvoting records, but I know I might – yet this is just my honest opinion): I never thought I’d write something like this, but … maybe we’d be better off if 2021 was cancelled as well. I know this is about as unpopular as a comment on here can get, but, seriously, just take a look at what’s happening all over Europe right now: – Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting each other – Russia and Ukraine fighting each other – Belarus silencing its own people – Political turmoils in… Read more »
Most of this stuff (apart from the pandemic) have been going on for years so why cancel just because of them, if anything something like Eurovision lifts people spirits in times like these and a break from reality is needed by many.
Also, Eurovision has never been conflict free, yet still went ahead every year
I wish NDR in Germany would pay attention to this. Matching songwriters with singers will most of the times result in those typical Eurovision-only entries that won’t last longer than a week. Hungary, on the contrary, has sent so many genuinely crafted quality entries that outdid the German ones every year (at least in the last couple of years). They always ended up among my favourite countries – whether it was with Kallay-Saunders, Joci Papai, AWS, Magdi Rusza or even Boggie. The path to a decent result appears to be so obvious it really hits you in the eye, yet… Read more »
I agree with you on that. More interesting with innovative songs like Hungarian ones, than typical ESC-songs
Absolutely. It’s not that I couldn’t enjoy ‘industry music’ if it’s good. But I think it’s rather songs like ‘Calm after the Storm’ or ‘Soldi’ that will make the contest more relevant and meaningful in the long term.
‘Euphoria’ being a very welcome exception to my theory, of course. 😉
Its the MyName and NextTimeAfter2009 trying to make themselves look like separate accounts for me
LOL. If we are the same, then Biden and Trump are the same persons. It’s more a case of great minds think alike 🙂
If this discussion tells us anything, it’s that few things split fans more than the LBGT-issue. Sad. We should all be friends. What unites us is our love for the music, not sexual differences. So many people dismiss ESC anyway, so we should stay together.
When people even dislike THAT I start to lose faith in fans…..
Give it up, you’re not fooling anyone.
As much as you never manage to convince me on this topic!
But to be honest – I can explain this easily. The 2009 nick belongs to my girlfriend. We live together. And use the same IP-address! Simple as that 🙂 So I won’t let this remain a mystery 😀 No wonder we agree sometimes then. We are a couple after all!
This is so funny omg, keep digging that hole you have made for yourself
Poland is more homophobic Than Hungary! Hungary also had the most gay song in esc history 2009
I love ESC but its connection with LGBT community I dont like. They change it in gay contest. These people are too much connected with it. I want music competition of countries for everyone, with all genres, with best performers, with many different and unique groups, male, female singers. Not contest with extreme envolving of LGBT community and generated ESC-likely songs. Hungary want it too, they have great entries, they make this show different. But majority of ESC fans want something other. And they are… You know.
Read my reply futher down. You will see we agree with many things. And many ESC-fans DO agree with you, be sure of that! 🙂 The problem is…they are probably not the general readers of this forum
I don’t have a problem with many fans being LBTG-though. I have many gay friends. And remember, many fans are straight / female too 🙂
You know being female does not exclude you from being gay…or hetero…right?
I think we all Know…no need to educate us further 🙂
He is here because he is as much entitled to his opinion as you are! Something called freedom of speech….a Nice thing btw….
Xo – you are of course right. But some people are too blind to see
Comimg from someone who wants tolerance….practize What you preach. Why should we all think the same? This is a place for discussion
If you complain about LGBT community in a contest where we come together and celebrate diversity, then you do not belong here.
Alex – maybe it’s you who needs to know more about tolerance. And your reply just underlines he is right!
You “embrace diversity” (slogan of 2017) indeed…..! Or not
A tip for Wiwibloggs! What about separating reactions – I mean both people who vote + and – become visible. For instance 8 + and 2 – That would be more accurate. For instance, I notices many people liked what Xoxoxo wrote too. So it would be more like YouTube then. Just an advice, dunno what you think, but I allow myself just to come up with something I think is a good idea 🙂
A better tip for Wiwi would be to ban you. You have at least three characters just under this article.
LOL! You don’t accept that I have a girlfriend who thinks the same as me? And who is n 3 🙂 If I could I would ban you, you are an unsympathic gay chauvenist! You get far more sympathy here than you deserve! And I know many people agree with us, despite all those “Likes” you get
You are a great couple, that’s true. You both even misspell “chauvinist” in exactly the same way. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you…but…she isn’t real.
Well, only two songs in history have ever won because of the gay vote: Dana International and Conchita Wurst. And I’m not even sure about Conchita, since it simply was one of the best performances ever.
On the other hand, even homophobes like Aram mp3 got very good results. So, yeah, I’m sorry, but you’re basically wrong about everything. Also, you sound very narrow-minded and I’m afraid you might actually be a medieval moron. Better have that checked …!
The ESC has become too political. Neighbor countries voting between them, wokeness…
EBU must ditch politics or the festival will disappear.
Disappear? That is dramatically putting it I think. But I agree that it has become too political. Yet EBU still claims it’s unpolitical…….hmmmm? Is it really?
Yep. It should be about Music. Not (bad) attitude to lgbt-people. Esc has been too much about it lately. We miss Turkey and Hungary. Should return
I think it might be a combination of budget and Hungary not doing as well as expected. Since they returned they have only cracked the top 10 twice. Of course results isn’t everything but people might lose interst in something if they don’t see the results of it. So they put big money on something that didn’t paid off and questioned the purpose of being part of it.
That is my theory! But of course I only speculate.. I doubt the LGBT theory since Hungary gave Conchita 10 points. But who knows..
You have good points there. Lack of money and disqualification make more sense as real reasons
In a field of 40+ countries, it’s naive to take top 10 results as a measure for success. As a German, I’m already happy when Germany doesn’t rightfully end up being the laughing stock. And up until Joci’s undeserved non-qualification, Hungary has had a qualifying streak not even Russia, Ukraine, Armenia or Greece could match. If that isn’t a payoff or success, then I don’t know what is.
But for some results is actually a reason to not enter. It is a bout getting value for your money. These are expensive programs paid for by viewers and viewers could rightfully ask if it is worth it. We had the same discussion in Sweden 2007-2010 where bad results led to questioning about participation in ESC. Then SVT decided to transform the contest into a modern pop contest to secure Sweden will get good results in the contest. As they said “it is of uttermost importance that Sweden does well in ESC.
You’ve had discussions even in Sweden???
Whoa … I really didn’t know. That’s somewhat depressing regarding the Swedish enthusiasm and track record …
Yep. One of the newspapers, was it Aftonbladet?, in 2008 had a special and asked celebrities and regulars what we should do with ESC. Shirley Clamp said we should leave ESC but keep Mello, and readers agreed. Someone said there should be regional contests for each part of Europe and the winners in each would compete in “the real ESC”. It wasn’t until Sweden missed qualification SVT realised it needed change and good results, otherwise people would give up on ESC
Sad. They should return. As much as they might have a point in both cases, the «Gay problem» (If there is One) is not reason enough to withdraw I think. It is about Music, not sexuality. Esc-fans come in all shapes, straight, bi, Gay etc. and we are friends. What Unites us is the love for esc and the Music. So Even If they might be right – don’t withdraw. I can more understand the problem with minst though. And a pity their musicians are snobbish towards esc
I agree. But unfortunately their governemnt is not gay friendly. And as long as people make ESC gay-ish……
EBU is a loose organisation. The show is produced by the host broadcaster but every member pays a fee to the organisation and pays for the show. The team behind the show are mostly local talent hired by the host broadcaster. That is why hosting it is a prestige, you get to use the best of your local talent. Now ESC is not cheap and for some broadcasters it might be to expensive to pay for.
Yes you answered your own question there, Una:) Every participating member is a potential host and is assumed to be able to host it if they actually win it.So when you confirm participation you also indirect confirm you can host it. Not being able to eventually host it can be a reason to pull out if the broadcaster isn’t 100 % sure it can afford it. I know that is the reason why SVT pulled out of ESC 1976 because they couldn’t afford to host it after hosting it the year before. So if he is saying they can’t afford… Read more »
Well, I think he should represent Hungary himself. He sounds good, no doubt why he mentions Lake Malawi as a good entry.
If he have a song as good as their 2018-entry – bring it on ?
Or their 2013-entry. I personally love their underrated 1995-entry too. But in general, easier to mention the few songs from Hungary I DON’T like…! 🙂
We already knew that Hungary was out because of their government thing with LGBTQ people, but now it is confirmed. It is very unfortunate actually, I mean it’s a country that is a part of the EU, and they are telling us that they are not ok with the western european lifestyle. Then why did they join EU? And this is not a question only for Hungary but EU as well, accepting a country that it does not agree with EU values. HOWEVER I’m not really convinced that this is why they withdrew. I mean it was already obvious that… Read more »
Those values are not European, let alone western. They are the values of elitists.
We have FAR too many problems in EU, it’s sadly true. However, we are (unfortunately) far more better than other countries throughout the world (including USA). And it’s also true that among EU there are different values as it seems. I mean, look at what happens to Poland, or in this case Hungary.
So sad! But I really hope (or dream, I don’t know) that all these “values” will one day come to life all over EU, Europe and the world. Maybe a dreamer
We are many who will miss them! They had great entries and great national finals. Always lots of musical diversity. usually quality all the way. I think it is a pity they think ESC has become “too gay”. And I must say – as a straight fan – I think honestly the “gay aspect” of ESC becomes too big. Gay gimnicks during the performances, presenters making “gay statements”, wawing gay flags. As much as I AM a LGBT-friendly person, and all for gay liberation, it can be too much at times. It’s a music festival, not about politics and manifestations.… Read more »
It’s great to know that me being gay and celebrating that is now political. That really doesn’t make me feel like sh*t at all.
Your homophobia shines through and you don’t even realize it. It seems you’re only comfortable in a world where the existence of gay people is invisible. Sad!
After having read many of your posts here, I more Get the impression you are a Gay chauvenist. Possibly heterophobic too. Stop ising the homophobic card when there is no reason. You don’t give a good impression of yourself honestly. You might write negative replies to me. Go ahead. I do not care. All dislikes here and negative replies from people who Will not listen just prove My points…
Wow….harsh words! I can’t do anything else but agreeing though 2009. I hope he is a nicer person than it seems!
But I thought you already knew him since he is apparently your boyfriend?
Notice how they aren’t responding…..crickets.
Hear hear! Many good points. And Yep – Hungary should not wirhdraw for that reason. Even If they might have a point
Thank you! Good that some people here understand my points. Which are valid enough. But it seems not always to connect with many of the “general readers” here. But I know a lot of ESC-fans agree with me anyway 🙂
For those who replied negatively, and pressed disliked (OK I know some liked it / answered positively too!), did you read the whole post? I wonder 🙂 I wrote many things proving I am anything than homophobic! I think it’s great that I live in a country who allows gays to marriage, and we also allow gay adoption of children. I am all in favour of Pride etc. (but don’t treat ESC as if it was Pride 😉 ). And I think it’s a big pity many lesbians / gay people live in despair because of unacceptance. For me they… Read more »
agree:) people go on to fast with calling people names without actually knowing them.
Indeed they do
This is truly disappointing because since coming back in 2011, Hungary has always always managed to send something meaningful to Eurovision while also standing out from the rest of the crowd, which I totally respect, and A Dal is such a good show to select their song and act. Despite being so up and down at Eurovision, they were almost always a safe bet to qualify and they were always an underdog to do very, very well. Withdrawing because of financial concerns at the broadcaster is totally understandable, but it is so bitterly disappointing when a country withdraws because of… Read more »
Yep! Great entries. Great national finals. They indeed must come back. We are a lot of people missing them
But in the Eurovision SONG contest, surely it’s the song that counts.
If we where to take that attitude and point out the participants political and social wrongdoings, we wouldn’t have many participants.
I find the attempt to politicise the SONG contest to attack countries for doing THEIR OWN thing in a social/political context is more damaging.
Eurovision is a SONG contest, not a “which country suits our consensus” contest. This isn’t a one size fits all situation and it should be left to countries to decide their own path.
I agree Darren! Let it be about Music. And only that. We see how troubles can occur orherwise. There is a reason why EBU wants it to be non-political
Let me quote you: “And again, Eurovision is a song contest that does not exist in a vacuum” You might be right. But at the same time, maybe it’s a bad sign? Has ESC become “too much”? That it is not just a music event / TV-show, but becomes a symbol of too many other things. EBU claims ESC is political. Still they – indirectly – allow many things which have a political side to it. Which I think is bad. For me ESC is a music festival. And secondly a TV-show. It should not be about manifestations, politics, special… Read more »
Perhaps these countries have withdrawn because some fans expect them to have a particular ideology of what is right and what is wrong and they know that a particular emphasis or direction for the contest to take could be damaging to them “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”. In recent years the contest has focused too much on these issues. Perhaps the EBU and the fans are partly to blame by being political etc.
To quote Duncan Lawrence himself, “music first, always”
Darren – Well put! Totally agree. And in the past, nobody said ESC was a “gay” thing. And it was just as popular as now. Too bad some people want to make it a “target audience” thing. Not the way of making with widespread popular……
Even if locals might wan’t their country to express some sort of ideology – one way or the other, and I guess we can all agree that neither should be the main purpose of a song contest – leaving the contest because you disagree with parts of it simply can’t be an option. That’s just immature and therefore nothing a supposedly proud country should even consider. Keep in mind what the ESC was invented for: to connect different cultures and maintain enduring peace across the participating countries. And at least at a greater level, I think that worked out quite… Read more »
You’re right, but I think you’re mixing up cause and consequence. Like Una, I’m also seriously concerned about the state of Europe and countries like Hungary and Poland in particular. Yet that doesn’t mean a thing, coming from me. But Hungary’s state broadcaster supposedly withdrawing for political/homophobic reasons although this clearly still is the SONG contest you wrote about, does make a difference. If Europe can’t even enjoy a shared moment of light entertainment, then we are all doomed. And let’s not forget Eurovision is open to almost anything – even political propaganda such as ‘I love Belarus’, ‘1942’ and… Read more »
It’s not racism, it’s homophobia.
Yes, sorry, you’re totally right, ‘racism’ definitely is the wrong word. I’d still call homophobia ‘fascism’ though, especially when it’s more or less a state doctrine.
I like how Hungary usually sent great entries, and a lot of them in Hungarian too. They stick to what they are, and they could only be representing Hungary.
Regardless of the politics behind the scenes, Hungary is consistently o e of my favourites.
Their absence will be noted by me this year and I really do hope that they don’t stay away too long.
I agree! Maybe the country I think send the best songs. Along with Turkey, Latvia, Georgia and Portugal
I personally don’t think they’ll stay out for long. I’ll give it another 2 years max. and than they’ll return imo. Yeah u can’t exactly call Hungary a progressive country, but it’s far from Hungary being another case of Turkey. I think it’s budget related, combined with esc not being exactly what MTVA search for (a progressive show).. but I refuse to believe that they solely withdrew based on that, since other countries are way more homophobic than Hungary (Caucasus nations, Poland, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Albania, some other balkan countries…)
Yep, I hope it will be a short break! We miss them
Don’t forget Poland’s anti-LGBTQIA+ zones, widespread homophobia, and a president that doesn’t think LGBTQIA+ people exist. Not to mention Chechnya (a state in Russia) killing LGBTQIA+ people on the street or detaining them in camps unlawfully.
This is just confirmation of the obvious. I miss A Dal and Hungary, and hope that once the country begins to change their backwards views they will return to Eurovision.
Orban’s policy works, so Hungary will not return as long as this power rules the country, and in addition they are against LGBT, like Turkey, if there is a change of power, the only hope for Hungary’s return