Back in 2003 the Junior Eurovision Song Contest was born. The EBU took the idea from the Melodi Grand Prix Nordic, which was a song contest for children consisting of three countries at the time, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, later with the addition of Finland. The EBU decided it was time to bring a song contest on a large scale for children to the TV screens of Europe. So it was announced that sixteen counties would take part in the first ever contest in Copenhagen, Denmark on the 15th of November 2003. Since that day in 2003, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest has had its highs and lows, at its peak the contest had 18 countries take part in 2004, although more recently the amount of participating countries has dropped. So This article is taking a look at how the Junior Eurovision Song Contest is likely to change once again and the contributing factors which lead to its recent decline in participants.
As with anything in life there are trends with peaks and troughs, the Junior Eurovision is no different, some countries will participate for a year and then withdraw, others will stay from the beginning. This is not something specifically for the Junior contest, in the adult version this is also the case, let’s use Austria for an example, they did not participate in 2006, they returned in 2007, abut withdrew again in 2008. A number of factors can contribute to a country withdrawing itself from the (Junior) Eurovision Song Contest Viewing figures, financial issues, a run of bad results, voting system.
33 countries have participated in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest over the years, although only 12 of them participated in Kyiv last year. Due to the decline the EBU have decided that the contest needs a new direction. After a number of changes over the years which include the addition of the jury and the automatic 12 points to each country at the beginning so no country can end with the dreaded nil points. For the 2014 contest the EBU have gone down the route of attempting to raise the age demographic to the teens more so than aiming it at children. This is an attempt to change the style of the show and make it more favourable to the older viewers. Should this work out, it could be an incentive for countries who have withdrawn to return. The recent entries which have been sent to the contest have been different from the style originally sent, let’s take Malta 2013 for example, Gaia Cauchi performed her beautiful ballad ‘The Start’ and took the trophy, which is a far cry from Belarus’ winning song in 2005, which was more of a child’s pop song.
The EBU have made a decision to bring the junior contest and the adult contest together, but having the ESC winner perform in JESC and the JESC winner perform in ESC, as you may remember Emmelie de Forrest performed in Kyiv in last year’s Junior contest, and Gaia Cauchi performed ‘The Start’ in Copenhagen in May. This could be a positive way to promote the Junior Eurovision to a wider audience.
In 2003, a number of big names in Eurovision participated in the first ever Junior edition, such as Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, Norway etc.. Only 5 of the founding members of Junior Eurovision participated in Kyiv last year for the 2013 contest: Belarus, Malta, Macedonia, Netherlands, and Sweden. Four of these countries have confirmed their participation in Marsa, Malta for the 2014 contest, with the return of Cyprus making it five original countries, and the possibility of Macedonia returning could make this six.
Nobody can predict what will happen from one year to the next, so the countries such as Spain who withdrew because they were unhappy with the format of the contest could return in the future due to the fact that there have been major changes over the recent years. Norway withdrew for similar reasons. The United Kingdom will not participate in Marsa, unless Channel 4 take over the contest but this is highly unlikely although if the contest continues to follow the route it is going at the minute with format changes and age demographics changing the United Kingdom could well likely return.
A lot of people had concerns that the contest was falling to the east, and because the majority of countries participating were from Eastern Europe, and eight out of the 11 winners have been from Eastern European countries (Using the UN definitions of Eastern and Western Europe). Although Malta’s first every Eurovision win could also be an encouragement for countries who find this factor. Also with it being Malta’s first ever Eurovision win, another factor for countries to debut or return could be that they may have their own taste of victory.
The question has been asked ‘Do adult Eurovision results determine a countries participation in the Junior edition?’ The answer to that is no. Norway won ESC in 2009 and did not return. Cyprus did not participate in Copenhagen but will return to JESC in November. Although, the fact that a good result in ESC could promote ESC in certain countries could be a move in the right direction.
To summarise: The Junior Eurovision Song Contest has been at its lowest point in its history over the last few years this is a trough, as earlier stated, and soon to come should be a rise, with the potential to peak in the next few years. With the EBU making all the right moves and participating in talks with a number of nations, this could likely happen. And with the economic climate changing this could be another contributing factor.
As of today 10 countries have signed up for the 2014 edition in Marsa, Malta. with unconfirmed 2013 participants being Macedonia, San Marino, and Azerbaijan, should all three participate this would exceed last year’s number. And should the EBU have been successful in their mission to bring countries back and persuade new countries to join, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest could be back on track to rise (like a phoenix).
Stick with ESCUnited.com for all your Junior Eurovision News and all information before and during the 2014 contest which will be held in Marsa, Malta on the 15th of November 2014.