Poland 2020

“Fair and equal” participation promised by EBU – Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020

Following the official confirmation of a 'home studio' contest, we asked the EBU a few questions about the format change.

No sooner the EBU announced the 13 nations that will compete in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020, they have also stated that this might not be the final total.

The contest is due to take part in the Polish capital – Warsaw. Unlike previous editions, spanning the 17 years since its creation in 2003, the acts will not be competing in the same venue. Remote studios across Europe will house the acts at home, in their native countries. That includes the host nation, Poland.

Following yesterday’s announcement of the 13 participating nations at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020, the team at ESCXTRA got in touch with the EBU to ask a few questions so we could gain more of an insight into this year’s contest.

How do you solve a problem like withdrawals?

The first question we posed to the EBU was about the number of withdrawals which had taken place this year. We were interested in the EBU’s decision making timeline the EBU took with the format change in regards to how many withdrawals we had seen due to the pandemic.

Here is what we asked:

With so many withdrawals this year due to COVID-19 related issues, was this decision taken to change the format to ‘film in their own studio’ after participants such as Ireland, Wales, Australia and North Macedonia stated their inability to participate?

This was the response we got from the EBU spokesperson:

Coronavirus is an unprecedented situation that is continually shifting. We have to respond to and work within the parameters of that. Ultimately, we were motivated by our duty of care to our contestants, our members, and all participating staff and support crew – and their safety is our paramount concern.

Equally, with travel restrictions being imposed on countries across Europe, it is clear that we cannot confidently bring all the artists to Poland to compete in person. That said, we’re determined that the contest will happen and that all participants should have the chance to compete, fairly and equally.

EBU spokesperson discussing the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

The Polish ‘problem’

That statement on fairness and equality lead our investigations perfectly into the next point of conversation. This concerned a growing talking point in the fanbase that the host entry could have a natural home advantage performing on the same stage as where the show is hosted.

The idea of Poland having any such ‘home advantage’ or preferential treatment was vehemently denied by the EBU:

Will the Polish act perform on the stage in the TV studio where the hosts will be leading the broadcast?

The Polish act will be performed in a similar environment to all other JESC 2020 songs, based on the specific guidelines that all broadcasters follow. It is paramount that an equal level of fairness is created in the performances of the JESC 2020 show

EBU spokesperson discussing the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

It is reassuring to hear the suggestion that the TV studio which hosts the contest might not be the same studio used by the Polish representative in the contest.

And we’re…live?

Following the announcement yesterday that the entries would all be performed from ‘studios at home’, naturally we were curious about if these entries would still be performed live. One of the selling points of Eurovision events is the live nature of the competition.

The response from the EBU spokesperson seems to only answer our question somewhat but does give us more important detail on how each performance will look on camera to the viewer:

Is each participating broadcaster going to present their entry live during the show, or will the performances be pre-recorded?

To strive for fairness and equal opportunity was something the Steering Group discussed at length and we will be imposing the measures to make sure that no contestant – or country – is disadvantaged. EBU Members in the participating countries have agreed to use similar stage layout and technical set-up to capture contestant performances.

The contest team of the Host Broadcaster will be assisting and guiding all Participating Members remotely, based on specific guidelines and each Participating Broadcaster shall be collaborating with the production team of the Host Broadcaster to deliver a satisfactory recording for JESC 2020.

EBU spokesperson discussing the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

Whilst it is great to know that the EBU wishes to ensure no contestant or country is disadvantaged, we did not receive a clear answer as to whether the performances will be live.

As we have seen, live television is hard to produce with the restrictions required due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many reality TV franchises have tried, from the Idol and Got Talent franchises, to the Masked Singer and Dancing With The Stars formats too.

It is only a matter of time to see whether the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020 will be ‘as live’ or a fully live competition.

The door to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020 is open?

Since this year’s edition has a marked drop in participants (from 19 in 2019 to only 13 in 2020), we also wondered whether the fluid nature of the pandemic could mean there are member broadcasters deciding at the last minute to enter. We asked the EBU if they would welcome any additional participating countries with the new format:

Would you welcome any nation who has withdrawn due to COVID-19 to submit a late entry now that the format has been changed and the personal safety of their young performers and associated delegation is secured?

The list of participating broadcasters we released today isn’t necessarily the final one. Indeed, we would welcome other nations coming on board to JESC 2020, up to our maximum of 20 broadcasters.

So even at this late stage, we need to presume that the current entry list is still at this point “officially provisional”.

Discover the 13 participating countries participating in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

Are there any other questions you have about the upcoming Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020? Let us know in the comments below or on social media – you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article was compiled by Nathan Picot and . Questions were asked to the EBU on Tuesday 8th September. An EBU spokesperson responded to all four of the questions we submitted.

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