Is there any future in the Junior ESF?
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The Junior Eurovision Song Contest has long been a problem child – pardon the pun – by the EBU. After the fourteenth edition of yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon in a tiny room, comes the question resurfaces how long the contest and the young participants will still hold out.
The message seeps in from various sources that the ratings have plummeted in different participating countries, though that was to be expected with the new time bearing in mind. The situation requires even whether it even makes sense to continue with the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, and how sustainable that future can be. Here three arguments pro and con.
Pro: high number of participating countries
Yesterday young candidates from 17 countries were facing each other. That is more than at the first Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003 (16 countries), but sensitive over only four years ago (12 countries). In terms of interest by European broadcasters is the children’s Party so definitely still alive, although the side note that in almost all cases the broadcast was moved to a children’s channel instead of the largest channel of broadcasting.
Pro: cheaper show
This year, the broadcast moved to a Sunday afternoon and a room with space for less than a thousand people. By comparison, in 2005 the Junior ESF place in the Ethias Arena in Hasselt, with over 8000 spectators. The intention was to let the children in a more intimate atmosphere to occur, and there is definitely something to be said for that. But first, it is a clear sign that the happening much cheaper can and need to get enough participants on board. A lower price tag considerably lowers the financial threshold for broadcasters, both to (re) to participate as. Georgia won for the third time yesterday, but the Organization has not yet undertaken. Whether that will happen, the next few weeks or months to be seen.
Pro: the playground
The Junior ESF has for many years been a playground for the EBU to certain things to try out on smaller size before putting them on the large ESF. Include opening the phone lines even before the first song was started or entering the 50/50-vote between audience and jury was first piloted in the Junior event. Except that it’s also an important playground for broadcasters who get their first experience in organizing events that are broadcast in multiple countries at the same time. Broadcasters from countries like Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria and Armenia have never had a real song festival, but could already do ‘ test run ‘ by the JESC for smaller-scale.
Contra: unstable field of participants
That high turnout is, however, not without a fight. Every year there are several broadcasters who stay at home and be replaced by other participating countries. Some countries are taking part, or only sporadically after years back to then again to stay away. That happened previously at Latvia and Poland and Croatia and yesterday in Israel. Having regard to the not-too-best quotations of both countries (eleventh and fifteenth), it is doubtful that the broadcasters TVP and IBA will be present again next year. The EBU does not succeed in a large enough group of broadcasters to settle down that wants to make the effort each year to participate. Whispered in the corridors is that various broadcasters for nearly or even no money, to the number of participants to keep artificially high .
Contra: the new voting system
The scoring of the JESC yesterday was totally different than in previous years. Televoting was drained, because in many countries barely was voted and already only jury results were used, and replaced with children’s juries in each country. Those points were treated as those of the televoters and like on the last song festival in Stockholm by the presenters’m Camille and Valerie Vella (picture) read out. In addition, there are also three voted ‘ experts ‘, which added nothing to the show and the results. Deleting the public vote is justified, but also understandable on encountering resistance. The introduction of televoting in the Eurovision Song Contest in the late 1990s gave the competition a new modern impulse of interactivity and participation. That element suddenly remove and return to 100% jury vote, takes that impulse again completely gone.
Contra: little touch with the world of children
How many European and Australian children will Mzeo, the winning song of yesterday, still listening? And the same goes for pastors Not My Soul, Tu primo grande amor, The Start and Nebo. A tendency of the last years is that children no longer have to write and compose their own songs, but that a blind getting experienced writers and composers. In many case, the songs that just might be the real Eurovision song contest, but which are sung by children between the ages of nine and fourteen. The move to a more child-friendly time is a step in the right direction, but changes little to the previously which content. The number of real children’s songs was on one hand to count, and that’s a shame on what a Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
It is impossible to predict whether the JESC in five years will still be there or not. Five years ago, virtually everyone had the game doomed. Though a possible ski information that the contest will be of less importance and gradually on the same level as European Young Dancers. That is also an EBU-contest, but on a much smaller (and cheaper) scale.
Photo: Andres Putting, EBU