Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Running Order Shock Reaction

There has been quite a lot of mixed reaction to today's announcement by the EBU about the running order being decided by the producers. So naturally I would like to add something to the debate:

Those who may have seen Ewan Spence's recent discussion about how Eurovision is very different from reality TV may have noticed that he concluded that the contest probably better reflects real life. It is fair and unbiased, unlike reality TV shows. The contest is organised so as to minimise the variables which may affect the outcome of the contest. Ewan also notes the importance of using random selections where certain elements of the contest may affect its outcome. I wonder did he understand what was around the bend.While some very influential Eurovision fans have stated that this represents a logical shift to make the contest more exciting, there has been widespread criticism of today's decision throughout the fan community. This is very understandable and should not simply be dismissed as ludicrous by those who welcome today's announcement.

Personally I cannot find a logical reason to oppose this. The running order draw has its limitations but on the other hand the running order can prove highly influential not just at Eurovision, but in many TV music competitions. The most obvious place where it is to be found is in Melodifestivalen, which despite its similarities to the Eurovision Song Contest can be considered a much more producer controlled show. There have been attempts to use the running order to the advantage of certain contestants.

However Eurovision is a very different scene. While in shows like the X-Factor contestants are bound by a legal contract to pretty much obey the show producers, Eurovision is simply not like that. Many contestants are supported by massive delegations who can ensure that every contestant is fairly treated. Like any major Eurovision decision the outcome of the rule change is likely to be difficult to understand until it is seen in practice. One major thought that pops into my head though is will the running order always be accepted? Is there any chance that a country might disagree with the producers? Maybe.

I strongly suspect that there is little reason to worry about this. This system has been seen at JESC since 2003. It could do a lot of good. However for many fans and this includes me, this move represents a change in the contest that hands power over to the producers of the show. This is not a trend that I can strongly support as it does mean a move towards a contest that resembles reality TV. You can call me a Tea Party Eurovision fan but that's just me. However for the moment I will accept Siste Bakker's point that there is little reason to suggest that the producers will be baised, unlike X-Factor, they have no stake in who the ultimate winner is.

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