Martin Österdahl: Those who needed an outlet from their frustrations and disapproved of me, it was ok!

In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of Eurovision, answers about the changes announced by the EBU, the limitation of his duties, the difficult situations due to the political developments in the Middle East that had an impact on the contest in  Malmö, but also for the boos he received during the final of this year’s competition.

Initially, Martin Österdahl is very positive about the changes announced by the EBU, but also about the fact that his responsibilities are being limited, since he will now have more control over what has been assigned to him.

The Eurovision Song Contest has grown explosively over the last four years and the organization has in many cases gotten away from us. If we compare ourselves to a bigger sporting event that has the same media pressure, we were probably a bit naive and didn’t really have the resources we needed.

Martin Österdahl is proud that Eurovision 2024 had high ratings. He points out that Eurovision has lived with “geopolitical tensions” over the years, but that it was particularly difficult in Malmö.

The Middle East issue is complex. They are fighting it out in the White House and in 10 Downing Street, so it is clear that it is also difficult for an organization like the EBU. I don’t have concrete answers as to how we are going to solve this in the future, but that decisions need to be made clearer and that communication is improved, that is what we will focus on.

Regarding the boos he received from the public, Martin Österdahl says that his only concern was that everyone was safe and that he has no problem with boos if they came from people who found an outlet for their frustration this way their.

My concern was that we would overcome these situations and that everyone would leave (Malmo) safe and sound. If they needed an outlet for their frustration, then boos are fine with me. The main thing was that no one was injured.

Stay tuned to Eurovisionfun for all the updates!

Source: Göteborgs-Posten

Breaking News: Steering Group’s meeting takes place in Madrid without the presence of Martin Österdahl!

The Steering Group for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2024 visited Madrid to supervise the competition’s preparations, which will be held in the Spanish capital, as seen in pictures posted on social media by Alexandra Redde-Amiel, the head of France’s delegation in both Eurovision and Junior Eurovision. The notable thing, though, is that Martin Österdahl—who serves as Junior Eurovision’s Executive Supervisor to this day—is conspicuously absent from the pictures.

The aforementioned development supports the rumor that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is seeking to remove Martin Österdahl from his position due to his poor handling of this year’s Eurovision and crisis that emerged, which brought about an abundance of negative publicity to the competition. This was also evident during the live broadcast of the Final, when he was the target of numerous and strong criticism as well as booing from the audience.

The 22nd Junior Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Caja Mágica, Madrid on November 16, following France’s refusal to host the contest for the third time in four years.

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Eurovision 2024: Martin Österdahl discusses the major changes to the contest!

The Executive Supervisor of the EBU, Martin Österdahl, spoke about all the recent changes introduced to the contest over the past two years.

In an interview with Billboard, Martin Österdahl, revealed the idea behind the changes introduced in this year’s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, especially regarding the voting process.

Österdahl began by explaining the decision to have the Big 5 and the host country perform normally during the semi-finals.”

We have felt from time to time that the Big Five perhaps had a disadvantage. We’ve looked at ways to correct that. The Big Five have been doing much better recently, but still we feel the time is right to make this change now.

According to Österdahl, the voting system is quite outdated, involving SMS, telephone voting, and a two-hour wait for viewers to cast their votes for their favorites.

If you see something that you like, you can cast your vote, which is something that is more in line with the behavior of young people today, who are used to interacting straightaway with the shows.

This leads us to another major change introduced last year – the Rest of the World voting. This type of voting was introduced for the first time during the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Warsaw, during the Covid-19 pandemic when delegations couldn’t attend the event in person.When we saw the online voting come in, it was a real eye-opener for me, because there were 12 participating countries as opposed to 40 in Eurovision and it’s a kid show.

We saw the votes coming in from 180 countries around the world on this European kids’ show. It was amazing, so I thought, “We need to tap into this.” My expectations are high when it comes to the engagement here.

When we saw the online voting come in, it was a real eye-opener for me, because there were 12 participating countries as opposed to 40 in Eurovision and it’s a kid show.

We saw the votes coming in from 180 countries around the world on this European kids’ show. It was amazing, so I thought, “We need to tap into this.” My expectations are high when it comes to the engagement here.

The Rest of the World voting will be adjusted this year as well, with a dedicated voting window open 24 hours before the live shows. This will give fans around the world the opportunity to vote for their favorites independently.

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Source: Billboard

Martin Österdahl: Eurovision Song Contest under financial pressure!

Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl discussed the financial challenges facing the Eurovision Song Contest.

In an interview with Dagens Industri, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl spoke about the challenges facing the Eurovision Song Contest. In recent years the costs surrounding the competition have increased significantly due to inflation, the exit of Russia and Belarus from the competition and other factors.

Mr Österdahl explains:

“Without commercial revenue, I think it’ll be tough for the Eurovision Song Contest to survive in the future.”

There are currently six well-known companies that have multi-year sponsorship deals with the Eurovision Song Contest, helping to fund the event. Traditionally, the competition has been funded mainly by the participating broadcasters:

“The contest was financed every year by the participation fee, but the production has grown so much and become so much more expensive that today, the fee’s a very small part of the required budget”

With the challenges of balancing public media and commercial interests, there is a delicate balancing act to ensure that the Eurovision Song Contest maintains its independence.

Mr Österdahl explains:

“We’re incredibly strict regarding that the commercial interests never get to control the content of the broadcasts – that’s one of the things I’m in charge of. But when you’re working with public service, it’s equally important to use your money in the best way. If you have the crown jewels like the Eurovision or Melodifestivalen, it’s very easy to critique it if you are wasting public service money and not using the commercial potential that it comes with.”

The Executive Supervisors’ interview comes months after the Irish head of delegation revealed to Éirevision that the competition is under financial pressure.

Michael Kealy said the increase in entry fees was a result of the EBU declaring that the competition was not currently “financially viable”. RTÉ currently spends a third of its competition budget on the fee required to be paid to the European Broadcasting Union. In 2023 this cost was €105,099, up from €92,588 for the 2022 tender.

Ahead of the 2023 competition in Liverpool, Bulgaria, Montenegro and North Macedonia pulled out of the competition citing the cost of participating at a time of economic hardship across the continent.

Romania also chose to withdraw from the 2024 competition due to financial difficulties affecting the broadcaster.

At another point in the interview, Martin Österdahl also spoke about the phenomena of hatred in the competition.

“We will fight back very hard” (on the phenomena of hate)”

The head of the competition has detailed the security situation ahead of next week’s competition, why Israel was allowed to enter the competition and his thoughts on the social media hate directed at this year’s artists.

First, Österdahl comments on the difficult conditions under which Eurovision is being held in 2024:

“You shouldn’t swear but… we’ve been a little unlucky this year.”

With tensions rising across Europe, there are concerns that Eurovision could become a target for protesters or even criminals. Österdahl, who has been the Contest’s Executive Supervisor since 2020, believes that while the contest may be “awkward” this year, its security can handle it:

“Regarding the security circumstances, we’ve been at the absolute peak of security for many years, so the audience and crew that work on this for eight-nine weeks can be safe. Will there be demonstrations? Very probable. Will it feel a little uncomfortable and could it get violent? Possible. Will the police be able to handle it? Yes, I think so.”

Österdahl also touches on the social media hate surrounding the contest this year. Many have protested Israel’s inclusion in this year’s contest, with some directing hate at both the contest organizers and the artists themselves. Österdahl feels that he and his team have gone beyond what they can tolerate now:

“There’s a lot of hate in the media and on social media, against the participants and those that work with this. Hate doesn’t belong in the Eurovision Song Contest and we will fight back pretty hard against that. We’re past what we can tolerate now – artists shouldn’t feel afraid of expressing their artform because there’s a conflict somewhere else in the world that they have nothing to do with. It’s absolutely absurd.”

When asked about Israel’s participation, Österdahl reiterated that Eurovision was a contest for broadcasters, not governments. And, when asked why Russia had been banned from the competition in 2022 and not Israel, Österdahl defended Israel’s broadcaster KAN, calling them the “direct opposite” of the Israeli state:

“The disinformation that was spread about the invasion of Ukraine was what was too much for us in the end. But while the Russian broadcasters are Putin’s and the Kremlin’s extended arm, the Israeli broadcaster KAN is the direct opposite. Netanyahu has been trying to shut it down. And it’s the independent public service broadcasters that we have to support.”

In addition, he said another broadcaster, Azerbaijan’s AZTV, is one whose independence is more questionable. While AZTV is not Azerbaijan’s Eurovision broadcaster – that’s İctimai Television – the Executive Overseer says they had “reasons to highlight things about Azerbaijan” in general:

“We’ve had reasons to point things out regarding Azerbaijan. It’s not exactly a democracy and sometimes you can question AZTV’s independence. But they’ve not yet crossed the line like Russia did.”

In the end, Österdahl admits to being “frustrated” with the political discussions surrounding Eurovision, saying that the contest is the only thing they can control:

“I spend a lot of time explaining to the delegations that once you step on the stage you have to take that coat off and focus on what brings us together. The only thing we can control are those three minutes on stage, and that’s why I sometimes get frustrated when lots of people want to make politics out of the Eurovision Song Contest.”

Source: Dagens Industri

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EBU: Proposal to abolish the Big 5 privilege from the contest!

The Swedish radio commentator for Eurovision , Carolina Norén , was invited as a guest on The Euro Trip Podcast. Norén shared her discussion with the Eurovision Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl, about a change on the Big 5 status in the contest.

The Swedish commentator, speaking to the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, suggested that the EBU should not guarantee the Big 5 a direct place in the finals. Instead, the Big-5 ( France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain ) shall be put to compete in the Semi-Finals, for a fairer result.

I think you should take away the Big Five. Let just the winner be qualified directly to the final and let everybody compete in the same way through the Semi Finals to the Final.

Although Martin Österdahl, seemed to be processing this idea, as it would be a special and big change, he nevertheless replied that at the moment there is no such possibility.

As it is known, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain constitute the Big 5. The Big 5 are the most important financial contributors to the contest as well as countries with a big Eurovision background. In addition, they pay the highest participation fees to the EBU, so they do not have to compete in the Semi-Finals to earn a place in the Grand Final.

Do you agree on abolishing the Big 5 privilege? Stay tuned on EurovisionFun for all news!

Source: The Euro Trip

Eurovision 2024: The renewed Reference Group of the contest!

EBU has announced the new Reference Group for the Eurovision Song Contest. There are several changes with departures as well as new appointments.

The tasks of the Reference Group are to approve the development and future format of the contest, to secure its funding, to modernize the contest’s brand and attract the public, to oversee the annual preperation ofthe country where the competition will take place.

All of the above takes place at meeting of the Reference Group, where on behalf of all Participating National Broadcasting Services they are called upon to take decisions for the general interest of the competition. Meetings do not exceed five per year.

As we reported in a previous article, Bakel Walden is the new Chairman of the Reference Group on the contest, where he stated that he is excited to participate in this iconic event.

The remaining members are divided into following categories:

  • Three elected members from among the Heads of Delegations of the countries
  • Two Executive Producers from countries that have hosted the contest in the past, as well as the Executive Producer of the current Host Broadcaster
  • Up to two invited members based on competence and experience
  • The EBU Executive Supervisor for the contest

Therefore, the new Reference Group consists of:

  • Bakel Walden (SSR SRG, Chair)
  • Ebba Adielsson (SVT)
  • Rachel Ashdown (BBC)
  • Felix Bergsson (RÚV)
  • Ana Maria Bordas (RTVE)
  • Carla Bugalho (RTP)
  • Claudio Fasulo (RAI)
  • Simona Martorelli (RAI)
  • Alexandra Wolfslast (NDR)
  • Martin Österdahl (EBU)

Ebba Adielsson and Ana Maria Bordas are new appointmets, while the following have left the Reference Group:

  • Sietse Bakker (NPO)
  • Yuval Cohen (KAN)
  • Astrid Dutrenit (NPO)
  • David Tserunyan (AMPTV)

Sweden has won the 67th Eurovision Song Contest, marking its seventh victory in the contest with 583 points. Below you can watch the performance after Loreen’s victory was announced:

Source: EBU

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Eurovision 2024: SVT has announced the main team for the contest!

Following the deadline for cities to submit proposals for the Eurovision Song Contest 2024, which will be held in Sweden, the team behind the organisation of next year’s contest has been revealed.

Sweden’s public broadcaster, SVT, has announced the executive team that will be responsible for organising the 68th Eurovision Song Contest. Following Loreen’s historic win in Liverpool, the contest will be held in one of the four cities, as they have put in a bid to host the contest. The cities bidding to host the contest are Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg and Örsnköldsvik. During the summer we will know which city will host the contest.

SVT’s newly appointed executive producer Ebba Adielsson said:

“I am very proud and excited for this extraordinary mission and I can finally present the first key roles and the leadership of the main team that will be leading the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. It is impossible to find a more experienced trio in this context and it is extremely reassuring to have them together on these giant and very complex productions.”

Ebba will temporarily step down from her role as SVT’s head of entertainment to focus on the contest duties with overall responsibility for Eurovision 2024. The people who will be part of the main team are as follows:

Christel Tholse Willers is the Executive Producer responsible for communications, press, branding and the event in collaboration with the host city. Christel had a similar role when Malmö hosted the Competition in 2013 and has a solid background in Melodifestivalen, where she is the Executive Producer.

Tobias Åberg is responsible for the overall technical production as Executive Production Controller and was also part of the core team in 2013 and 2016. Since then, he has served as Head of Production or Technical Expert on Eurovision Song Contest productions for the last eight years.

Johan Bernhagen, together with Martin Österdahl, was Executive Producer for the competition in 2016 and Head of Production in 2013. This time, he will be Executive Producer and responsible for finances and overall technical production together with Tobias Åberg.

A short while ago, the EBU announced the new chairman of the Reference Group on the contest. Bakel Walden, who is currently working as Director of Development and Bidding at the Swiss state channel SGR. Bakel’s CV is quite enriched, as he has also worked as Head of Planning and Programme Development at the Greek channel Alpha TV between 2009 and 2012.

Speaking on his appointment, Bakel said:

“I am honoured to have been selected as the new President of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group. The Eurovision Song Contest is an iconic event that has been bringing people together for nearly seven decades, and I am thrilled to join the team at a time when the contest has never been more popular and exciting. I look forward to working with the members and relevant reference group stakeholders to promote this unique event on digital media, while ensuring that the competition continues to be a celebration of music and diversity that unites the world.”

Sweden has won the 67th Eurovision Song Contest, marking its seventh victory in the contest with 583 points. Below you can watch the performance after Loreen’s victory was announced:

Source:  και EBU

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USA: Partners looking at options for the American Song Contest!

The EBU provided an update on the status of the American Song Contest following its cancellation by NBC earlier this year.

The American Song Contest was cancelled after its first season on NBC due to disappointing ratings and lack of impact on the music charts. Martin Österdahl the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest commented at a press conference in Liverpool earlier today:

Partners in America are looking at other options

The Eurovision franchise in the US is operated by Voxovation, which holds the exclusive rights to the Eurovision brand beyond the European region.

The winner of the 2022 Contest was AleXa, from Oklahoma, with the song Wonderland.

Source: Eurovoix

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Canada: Eurovision Canada Has Taken a Step Back!

It seems like the launch of Eurovision Canada in 2023 is unlikely after what was said at the EBU press conference today in Liverpool.

Martin Österdahl talked about Eurovision Canada at a press conference for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. He said that ever since the contest was announced in 2022:

“We thought it would happen and it kind of took a step back, we are still hoping. The original avenue that was pursued closed, but we are hopeful”

The Eurovision franchise in Canada is operated by Voxovation, which holds the exclusive rights to the Eurovision brand beyond the European region. The announcement of the competition was made for the very first time in April of 2022.

The competition was designed to feature artists from every Canadian province and territory, who would vie for victory through a series of Qualifying rounds, Semi-Finals, and a Grand Final.

Source: Eurovoix

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Eurovision 2023: Russia will not be able to vote in the “Rest of the World” category!

An interesting change coming to Eurovision 2023 is the introduction of the “Rest of the World” category, which means that people from non-participating countries will be able to vote for their favorites in this year’s contest. The votes received from all around the globe will be counted as the votes from a single country, which translates to a total of 58 points. There is slight advantage to the audience votes this year, because there will not be a “Rest of the World” category in Jury votes.

In today’s press conference, the executive supervisor of Eurovision, Martin Österdahl, mentioned that the “Rest of the World” category was inspired by Junior Eurovision that uses an Online vote since 2017.

I was taken aback that 182 countries voted in Junior Eurovision 2020 in Warsaw, and says something about Eurovision becoming a global phenomenon.

It was also confirmed that EBU will not publish the list of countries that will be eligible to vote using the “Rest of The World” platform. On the other hand, it was known that some countries will not be eligible to vote. One of these is Russia, because payment providers have suspended operations in the country.

Russia, as a result of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war since February 2022, is expelled from the European Broadcasting Union(EBU), losing its rights to participate and broadcast the EBU programs, including Eurovision. The same might apply also to Belarus, that had its broadcaster expelled from the EBU in 2021 and can reapply for membership in 2024.

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