Normally Belarus received around one hundred entries into its national final, but this year numbers are down. Belarus state broadcaster BTRC has revealed in the broadcast of Panorama that they received “around half a hundred” entries for Eurovision 2021.
Receiving “around half a hundred” entries — which could mean anything — is a record low. Usually, BTRC tends to receive a stable number of around a hundred entries per year.
Last year, the broadcaster received 95 entries. However, the hopefuls then had have citizenship or residenship in the country. In 2019, the most recent year when international artists could enter, BTRC received 113 entries.
If we compare the number of entries submitted to BTRC this year to last year — and assume that “half a hundred” is around 50 — we can see a decline by about a half. If we compare it to 2019, the decline is even sharper.
How can Belarus’ sudden decline in Eurovision entries be explained?
Since the start of the pro-democracy protests in Belarus, many locals have critiqued the coverage of BTRC on the matter. Several reports made by the Belarusian state broadcaster shortly after the election of 9 August tended to portray the peaceful protesters as “hooligans”.
As a result of these events, a number of people involved in the Belarusian music and television industry withdrew themselves from involvement with BTRC.
In August, longtime Eurovision commentator Evgeny Perlin resigned from his role at BTRC. Artists, on the other hand, have simply refused to take part in television programmes made by the broadcaster.
On top of that, the broadcaster decided to not send Eurovision 2020 contestants VAL again after they had spoken to an independent publication in September, stating that they wanted to able to say what they want. BTRC told the protest-supporting duo they did not have a “conscience”.
As BTRC completely produces the Eurovision selection, it is logical that some artists do not want to enter. Seven-time national final entrant NAPOLI, who announced her refusal to take part in the selection.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian Culture Solidary Foundation has put out a call to the EBU to remove BTRC from participating in the contest. Telegraph.by reported that former Eurovision contestants NAVIBAND and Angelica Agurbash have supported this call.
BTRC is the only Belarusian broadcaster with EBU membership.
How will Belarus select its entrant for Eurovision 2021?
The broadcaster earlier confirmed that the usual live auditions would not be used in 2021, with entrants required to submit a live video performance of their song.
At the same time as revealing the number of entries, BTRC also repeated that the format of the selection is still very much up in the air.
In Panorama, it was reported that “the mechanism of choosing the winner of the ‘project’ would depend on a lot of different factors, and partially on the developments of the pandemic in the world”.
With this, BTRC has once again not ruled out that it might go internal after all. Last year, they internally selected their entrant for Junior Eurovision for the first time.
What do you think? How should BTRC select their act for Rotterdam? Who would you like to see represent Belarus? Tell us your thoughts below!