Organising the Eurovision Song Contest is a mammoth challenge and a race against time for the Host Broadcaster to get ready for one of the largest television events in the world. The Reference Group plays a key role in overseeing the arrangements for the forthcoming contest.
The meeting started with a review and de-brief of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest before representatives from Portugal’s public broadcaster, RTP, presented their initial plans for the 2018 competition. Several venues were proposed and an announcement regarding the provisional dates of the 2018 contest is expected in the coming weeks. “The next key milestone will be the selection of a venue, which meets the requirements for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest,” said Jon Ola Sand, the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The first Reference Group meeting following the contest is an opportunity to share advice and best practice with new Host Broadcaster. “Representatives from the team in Ukraine handed over valuable knowledge to colleagues from Portugal. The Eurovision Song Contest is a huge event to organise and the work starts the minute a country wins,” added Jon Ola Sand.
In with the new... welcome Portugal
Carla Bugalho Trindade, Portugal's Head of Delegation at the Eurovision Song Contest introduced members of her team from the broadcaster RTP. Reflecting upon Salvador Sobral's win in Kyiv she said: "We won for the first time, it was a wonderful experience to finally hear 'Portugal 12 points' but we did not expect to win, the main goal was to qualify for the final. When we won, it could not have been better. Everyone stood still to watch the TV, everyone wanted to see Salvador win." Carla arrived at the airport where thousands gathered to welcome the team home. "It was amazing, a very special moment," she added.
Cristina Tomé, Chief Finance Officer at RTP added: "We were really happy, we were expecting this for more than 50 years. It was good for our country and for us at RTP." What was the first thing Cristina did after the victory? "We celebrated of course but we got to work right away. I sent messages to my colleagues, read the documentation given to us by Jon Ola Sand at the winning press conference and we then began to set up the core team," she explained.
What does the Reference Group do?
The Reference Group was established by the European Broadcasting Union's Television Committee in 1998. The Group meets approximately five to six times each year. The main tasks of the body include approving format developments and changes to the rules, securing financing and overseeing the preparations by the Host Broadcaster.
The team at RTP have already had several conference calls with the Reference Group and yesterday they attended an EBU workshop which covered all topics relating to the Eurovision Song Contest from the venue through to city transportation. "When we return to Portugal we will finalise the venue and Host City selection including the dates of the 2018 contest. After this it's time to develop the slogan and artwork. This is more than just Eurovision, this is a huge event," Cristina Tomé explained.
The team at RTP are excited to welcome fans to Portugal next year. "You have to come to Portugal, enjoy the country and enjoy the contest. We will have sunshine for you!" Cristina added laughing. When it comes to the preparations for 2018, the message from the Reference Group is so far, so good.