Following Blas Cantó’s 24th place finish at Eurovision 2021, Spain has now failed to reach the top 20 for the sixth contest in a row. In amongst the criticism from fans and former participants, this string of poor results may have finally stirred some changes within Spanish broadcaster RTVE.
The broadcaster’s new Executive President, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, is expected to announce changes in the Eurovision and Entertainment division of RTVE this week.
Changes reported for Spain’s Eurovision delegation
Tornero was elected to the role of RTVE’s Executive President at the end of March. Only two months later, and he is reported to have proposed a number of changes to the corporation.
According to Bluper, the subsection of online Spanish newspaper El Español that reports on television matters, both Head of Delegation Ana María Bordás and Head of Entertainment Toñi Prieto could be leaving their jobs.
Bordás joined the Spanish delegation in 2017, after the abrupt exit of Federico Llano following the heavy Eurodrama at Objetivo Eurovisión that year. She was supposed to handle the job temporarily, yet problems with RTVE’s renewal of direction have delayed her exit.
Despite the poor placings at Eurovision, Bordás has managed to bring Spain back to Junior Eurovision, where the country has achieved two top three results. She’s also recently been appointed to the EBU’s Television Committee.
Prieto, on the other hand, is usually signalled by Eurovision fans as the main problem within Spain’s delegation and RTVE’s inability to climb the scoreboard at Eurovision.
Former Eurovision stars and fans criticise RTVE over poor results
Spain’s result at Eurovision 2021 is in stark contrast to other nearby countries. Neighbours France and Portugal both reached the left hand side of the scoreboard, while fellow Mediterranean nation Italy went on to win. As a result of this, Spanish media and past Eurovision stars seem to have moved on from the traditional “Europe hates us” rhetoric and towards blaming broadcaster RTVE.
One of the most significant criticisms came from Eurovision 1971 star Karina. The star, who came second in Dublin and is still a well-known face in Spain, directly pointed at RTVE during an interview on TV channel La Sexta:
“First of all the song has to be made to measure for the singer. Then, and most importantly, and I’m saying this with a bit of anger, RTVE needs to believe in Eurovision. RTVE doesn’t believe in the contest, and thus we can’t blame it on the singers neither the songs, they need to believe in Eurovision.”
— TVMASPI (@sebas_maspons) May 23, 2021
She’s not the first to speak out against the broadcaster. Eurovision 2009 representative Soraya Arnelas also hit at RTVE some months ago. Speaking in a colloquium in April, she stated: “The problem is not RTVE, it’s the people working in it. Some absolutely don’t care about Eurovision, they’ll get their wages every month equally”.
“I’m talking about people who have been there for a long time, and they will not fire them because it would cost them a fortune. They are a group of bigots. Then, it’s the artist who has to carry the can. We have such a bad time wherever we have to go”, she said.
Eurovision 2011’s entrant Lucía Pérez pointed out something similar speaking to Cadena SER: “RTVE lacks illusion towards Eurovision”.
“Why doesn’t Spain do well at Eurovision?”
Just like in the United Kingdom, Eurovision fans in Spain have criticised the media in previous years because of their take on the results. However, things appear to be changing following Eurovision 2021. Instead of the regular “Europe hates us”, a lot of mainstream outlets have been asking the question: “Why doesn’t Spain do well at Eurovision?”.
The headlines of some major Spanish news sites have been alike. El País asked: “Why did Italy win? What should Spain change?”. El Español’s Bluper had a similar question: “Why does Spain always do bad and what should it do to improve?”.
Meanwhile El Mundo put the blame on Blas Cantó’s entry “Voy a quedarme”. Quoting James Carville, they wrote “It’s the song, stupid”. La Vanguardia also pointed out how fans await for changes coming from the new RTVE president.
RTVE: “Not winning does not mean failure”
Fans are clearly not amused at the broadcaster either. Most of the Spanish Eurovision twittosphere has hit back at RTVE after a long wait for a decent result. While many asked for self-criticism from the broadcaster, a couple of actions from RTVE’s side have upset the fans even more.
First there was this tweet on Sunday, where the broadcaster claimed: “Not winning Eurovision is not a symptom of failure. There are many songs who did not get the glass microphone, yet they remained in memory. We’ve revisited some of them on El Telediario [the news bulletin].
No ganar #Eurovision no es sinónimo de fracaso
Hay muchas canciones que no lograron el micrófono de cristal y que han quedado grabadas en nuestra memoria
— RTVE (@rtve) May 23, 2021
Theses lines did not go down well with the fandom, as it was read as a lack of self-criticism.
In fact, the tweet was quoted over 400 times, and people were not exactly mentioning their favourite entries who did not take the trophy…
¿Desde cuándo tener seis bottoms consecutivos no es un fracaso? Si no contribuyeseis tanto a la UER y pasáramos por semifinales, llevaríamos AÑOS sin pisar una final… https://t.co/LjrfXBTGG1
— Hale ??? (@cocretono) May 24, 2021
(Six bottom placings in a row is not a failure? If you didn’t contribute so much to the EBU, we wouldn’t have qualified from the semis for years)
no ganar siendo A million voices de Polina no es lo mismo que no ganar siendo Voy a quedarme de Blas https://t.co/6S375hLDDC
— estelå ?? (@estelafieratto) May 24, 2021
(Not winning with “A million voices” by Polina Gagarina is not the same as not winning with “Voy a quedarme” by Blas Cantó)
No ganar, no. Quedar 6 años seguidos entre los 6 últimos SÍ.
En una empresa privada la delegación de #Eurovision al completo estaría en la calle desde hace años.
— Carlos Viader Castro (@ViaderCarlos) May 24, 2021
(Not winning is not a failure. Coming bottom six in the last six years is. In a private corporation, the whole delegation would have been fired years ago. Such apathy, arrogance, lack of self-criticism and waste of public resources is unacceptable).
Then, on Monday, fans were not happy with the reaction to the Eurovision 2021 results on RTVE’s morning show La Hora de la 1.
Many criticized the fact that one of the opinions shown live said: “The better option would be not taking part, but if they have to be there, they need a total change. Enough ballads, let’s bring a little bit of happiness, although we wouldn’t even win with that”.
Quizá dar prioridad a voces críticas antes que al típico mensaje cuñado. pic.twitter.com/EFu4BKjlou
— JuanMa Fdez (@juanmafdez) May 24, 2021
Spain’s streak of bad results has the fans up in arms against the broadcaster. In fact, some fans have started a campaign to stop following RTVE’s Eurovision account on Twitter.
TV ratings have also dropped this year, though Eurovision 2021 was still the most watched show of Saturday evening with a 29.4% share of viewers on average. Just over four million people tuned in for the full broadcast – that’s lower than 2018 and 2019, but better than 2017.
Do you think changes are needed within RTVE for success at Eurovision? Do you see a left-side finish for Spain in the near future? Let us know in the comment section below!