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No sooner had the end credits finished for the contest in Copenhagen before fans begun speculation on what the next year would bring and, as is tradition, many have turned to possible rumours of returning or debuting countries for the next contest in Austria. One of the countries that generates the most discussion in this respect is Czech Republic, whose reluctant approach to Eurovision over the years has been interesting to observe.
Of course, rumours have already begun for 2015 – and the national broadcaster Česká televize has been sending surprisingly mixed messages about returning. However, over the years the broadcaster has built up a reputation as being one of the hardest to convince. So just why does a country in the heart of Europe have such a troubled, enigmatic relationship with the continent’s favourite TV show?
After broadcasting a few contests in the 60s, the nation’s story begins in 1993. Czech Republic and Slovakia go their separate ways and the latter attempts to join the contest immediately, narrowly missing out on a place in the contest in Millstreet, Ireland.
Czech Republic, on the other hand, would not show interest until Eurovision 2005, initially confirming their debut before withdrawing in late 2004 citing financial difficulty. This happened again in 2006 where it became apparent the broadcaster did not like the idea of there being no guaranteed Czech entry in the Eurovision final to appease the viewers.
Luckily, the broadcaster gave in and finally joined the Eurovision family in 2007, sending one of Czech Republic’s most famous artists Kabát. They ultimately only received 1 point and came last in the semi-final – saved from nul points by Estonia. 2008’s entry did not fare much better, with Tereza Kerndlová finishing with 9 points and with the country failing to qualify once more.
Czech Republic’s final entry to date came in 2009, just two years after their long-awaited debut. Gipsy.cz’s daring entry Aven Romale became the second Czech last place with no points at all and CT announced their withdrawal two months later, stating a lack of interest in the Czech public.
Ever since, the 10 million people of the Czech Republic have not had a representative in the contest and CT has continued to show strong reluctance for the show. Then-program director for the broadcaster Kateřina Fričová showed confusion over neighbouring Slovakia’s appreciation for the contest and hopes of a return have been bleak.
So why is there such a lack of interest? Czech Republic still enjoy the benefits of EBU membership, notably entering Eurovision Young Musicians since 2002. Unbelievably, CT has even recently shown interest in debuting at the contest’s Junior equivalent while still maintaining the excuse of little viewership and interest for the main event. The broadcaster’s financial situation still appears poor which hampers hope of a return to Eurovision but fans continue to remain optimistic.
But maybe there is indeed hope? With two of the country’s neighbours winning in recent years – showing any country can do well with enough effort – and the contest’s 60th anniversary looming, it seems now is the perfect time for Czech Republic’s return. Regardless, it appears CT will continue to send mixed signals and play down their intentions until the deadline edges closer, and we can look forward to “will they, won’t they” rumours until the end of the year.
Do you want Czech Republic in 2015? Will we see more countries next year? Let us know your thoughts below!