Monday, 17 March 2008

Save the Eurovision!

Do you know what your Swedish friends did on Saturday? More than 4 million Swedes are estimated to have watched when Charlotte Perrelli and her song “Hero” qualified to represent Sweden in the coming Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). The total population of my native country is only 9,1 million people and I seriously wonder how many dictatorships can beat penetration figures as high as these. Nowadays, Sweden sings in English, but except for that, we are very conservative. Check out “Hero” on YouTube – the music and the choreography show that the entry comes from a country where the ESC is still taken seriously.

That is not the case in Spain and when Chikililicuatre won the Spanish final with “Baila el ChikiChiki”, less than 2 million people watched the program although the population is five times that of Sweden. The title of the show “Salvemos Eurovisión” (“Let’s save the Eurovision) does not seem to have helped much.

And that is a pity. Not that I am a big fan of Eurovision music in itself (I ought to add ‘any longer’, since I am Swedish) but there are values which this event promotes better than any campaign initiated by EU bureaucrats. If only once a year, this competition gives us an opportunity to feel united as Europeans. It is one of the few media experiences which we all share, which is also produced in Europe (as opposed to all US made movies). Except for that, what other means than the ESC do small states have to remind the world of their existence? To me, it is not surprising that most states in Eastern Europe have become eager and highly competitive participants.

Now, international recognition, is that not what Catalonia yearns for as well? Apparently, Scotland is starting to understand the marketing value of taking part as a separate nation. Why do not people here do the same? Catalan TV3 is not yet a member of the European Broadcasting Union, but regions can be and once they are, at least theoretically, they have the right to participate in the ESC under their own flag.

For the semifinals and final in Belgrade May 20-24, 2008, it is too late, but why not have a Catalan entry in 2009? Not only the Catalan nation but also Spain would benefit - the latter would gain a neighbour who would most likely vote for them (in the ESC, old animosities are fast forgotten, look no further than last year’s voting within former Yugoslavia). If this happens, I am confident that audience figures from Catalonia alone will top those we currently see for the whole of the Spanish state. “Salvem l’Eurovisió!”

Remarks: An entry with a similar content can be found on “Wirdheim i Katalonien”, my new blog in Swedish.

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