This year, the individual rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) were held behind closed doors for the press, and the press conferences after each artist’s first rehearsal was also removed from the programme. In addition, the press conference after the second rehearsal was replaced by a one-sided interview posted on the event’s social media.
Martin Österdahl, Executive supervisor of the event, was asked at a press conference about the reasons for these changes, citing two main – which are also financial: “The reason why we’ve made those changes is a combination of two things, mainly. The first it’s – and I do realize that perhaps this is hard to explain, but I also do hope you can respect it – hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is a phenomenal challenge for any host broadcaster, for any public service media organization in Europe. We are now with our biggest member, the BBC, and we were in a situation where there is a economic crisis, there is a cost of living crisis, there is high inflation. We need to work on how to make this event more financially sustainable and that is one of the primary reasons to why that changes have been made”.
The Swede also stressed the intention to protect artists from toxic media coverage: “The other thing, which is equally important for us, and I will be frank about this. We have seen a lot of toxic coverage around the Song Contest, particularly in the early stages of rehearsals. And we need to take care of the mental well-being of our artists. We have to remember this is the biggest stage arguably in the world, it’s also the biggest stage where they will ever be on. Some of them are very young, and this year we have a few examples of that. And even if they are not young, they aren’t always ready to be presented to the world. And that’s why we’ve kept more closed down in the early stages of the rehearsals”.
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