Svante Stockselius, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest and this years Executive Producer Yuri Aksuta were the speakers at the press conference and ran through a detailed agenda, updating the press on the last 12 months work on the contest, new developments in 2009 and a look forward to 2010.
Reflecting on the First Semi-Final yesterday, Svante confirmed "With regards to the wildcard rule, that rule was used last night. One of the songs was not in the first ten of the televoting, and was saved by the jury. This country will not be confirmed until after the Final on Saturday." Svante confirmed that the stage this year is the biggest ever at 25 metres. The new rules on voting for the Final were explained, confirming that 50% of the votes will be televoting and 50% a professional jury. The reasons for this are in the past years the back up juries and televoters have disagreed more about the results, and to try and cut back the effect of so called diaspora voting.
Provisional Dates for 2010
Svante confirmed that the Final will be broadcast in Austria, Kosovo and delayed in Australia. He also said that 2300 journalists were accredited this year. Three countdown shows were produced prior to the event, but the winners tour will not be continued due to financial constraints and scheduling issues. The preliminary dates for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest were announced as Tuesday 18th, Thursday 20th and Saturday 22nd May 2010.
A mysterious box was then brought to the press conference stage by two security guards and opened by Svante, and the trophy for this years winner was displayed.
A Norwegian journalist raised concerns about the fact that the Russian head of jury Philip Kirkorov had been seen having dinner with the Norwegian singer Alexander Rybak, and whether this would affect impartiality. "It is up to the national broadcasters to find the five most suitable people. There is a clear rule that none of the jurors can be professionally involved with any of the artists competing. They have to sign a contract saying their votes would be independent." Yuri then added "Philip loves the Eurovision Song Contest, he always usually attends and he is a very objective person".
The names of the back up juries will be revealed by the commentators during the Final. As for the individual televoting and juries results, a technical sweep will be made to clarify information is correct. Then these results will be revealed. A Polish journalist raised a question about the quality of presentation by the hosts of the First Semi-Final. Yuri answered "As for the work of the hosts, it is up to you the journalists and the televoters to evaluate whether it's good or bad. I don't want to argue about that, it's your assessment. We will have a Second Semi-Final and we will manage, together with the hosts to put on a good show. They didn't have a lot of time to prepare and the Second Semi-Final will be quite different"
With regards to finance, Svante explained the Big Four rule and confirmed that they (United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany are contributing 30% of the whole participation fee as things stand. The other countries are happy with this, he adds as if any of the Big Four were to drop out, the fee would be increased for the other countries, and in the current economic situation that may mean some of them pulling out altogether. The fees from participating members cover around a third of the production costs at the moment, and the host broadcaster is responsible for financing the remainder.
Italy to return??
An Italian journalist asked Svante about Italy's non participation in the contest since 1997. Svante said "One of my major goals when I took on this role was to get Italy back on the Eurovision Song Contest stage, the contest needs Italy and we will constantly be talking to the broadcaster to get them back."
Yuri was asked how he felt that a Ukrainian was representing Russia in this years contest. He said "I am very proud, as she is Ukrainian but became famous with the Star Factory show in Russia so she is well loved by the Russian people too."
Two very special guests were introduced at the close of the press conference. These were the very first winner ever of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, Switzerland's Lys Assia, and the most recent winner Russia's Dima Bilan. Svante presented Dima with a plaque which all former winners of the contest now receive. Both Dima and Lys praised the contest for bringing people and music lovers together, and that hasn't changed from 1956 when she won to 2008 when Dima did.
Dima was asked why he hasn't returned to Serbia since his victory by a Serbian journalist. He said "I went immediately on a winner's tour, and have had many responsibilities over the last year. I never left the plane over the last year. I would definitely go back, I would be very happy to come back."
Lys said that she enjoyed the Eurovision Song Contest back in her day, that the song would be at the front, not the dancers, the loud sound. She would like to see the contest return to focus more on the singing tradition, singing a simple song. Dima added in response that the contest has evolved with the times and the environment that people live in now is very different. The value of Eurovision is that one can make his or her choice as to what they like. During the photo shoot after the press conference Lys put her arm around Dima and said "This is my new lover now"!