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Eurovision ratings plunge amidst a number of controversies and boycott calls

May 13th, 2024

Eurovision ratings have apparently plunged amidst several controversies and boycott calls for this year’s edition.

This year, the contest has faced criticism for its inclusion of Israel due to their role in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. Due to this political neutrality clause, the EBU announced they reserved the right to remove Palestinian flags and symbols, and would go on to censor Irish contestant Bambie Thug for wearing the word ‘ceasefire’ and ‘freedom for Palestine’ as a hidden message on their costume.

Israel’s inclusion prompted boycott calls from the LGBT+ community towards UK entry Olly Alexander, reasoning that the competition was “providing cultural cover and endorsement for the catastrophic violence that Israel has unleashed on Palestinians.”

Over 1,000 Swedish artists called for Israel to be banned this year – including RobynFever Ray, and First Aid Kit – and more than 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals have signed a petition to ban the country from taking part in the contest as well. Over 400 Irish artists also called on Bambie Thug to boycott the contest too.

Additionally, this year’s competition saw them disqualify the Netherlands’ entry Joost Klein hours before the contest, in which Klein was accused of making verbal threats towards a female member of production crew. In response, Dutch broadcasters said they were “very disappointed” by the decision, calling it “disproportionate”.

Now, the broadcasting figures have shown the impact of the various boycott calls, spurred on by the EBU’s treatment of Klein. According to agency Digital.i, this year’s competition was watched by an average of of 7.64million viewers, with a peak of 8.46million. In comparison to last year’s contest, which took place in Liverpool, a peak of 11million viewers tuned in with an average of 9.98million.

Olly Alexander at Eurovision. Credit: Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty

NME spoke to longtime fans and viewers on whether they would be boycotting this year. Whilst former winner Jay Aston of The Fizz (fka Buck’s Fizz) said she’d be “watching” as she didn’t think boycotting was going to “make any difference”, comedian Sam Lake stated he would be boycotting this year.

“I’m choosing not to watch just because I don’t think Israel should have been allowed to participate this year,” he told NME.

“I find it really difficult to not see their participation as a form of propaganda,” he continued. “And I feel the way that the EBU has managed their participation has been very questionable. As much as a fan I am of Eurovision, I never want to lose the ability to criticize it. This year, it feels like the right thing to do to avoid watching.”

Additionally, musician Jason Kwan said they would “absolutely be boycotting Eurovision this year”, adding: “In the past few days, we’ve seen the EBU censor performers like Bambie Thug and Eric Saade because of the performers’ pro-Palestinian messaging.

“Like a lot of mainstream media outlets, the EBU are continuing to silence pro-Palestinian voices and dehumanise the reality that people in Gaza are experiencing. It is inconceivable to me that people who say they support Palestine and are against genocide, are still flying out to watch Eurovision live or are posting in celebration of the contest, consciously accepting the EBU’s censorship and turning a blind eye to the atrocities being inflicted on Gaza.”

This year, Switzerland’s entry Nemo won, becoming the first nonbinary contestant to be crowned the champion with their song ‘The Code’.

Nemo’s victory also marks Switzerland’s first Eurovision win since 1988, when Celine Dion competed with ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’.

In their victory speech, Nemo declared: “I hope this contest can live up to its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person in this world.”

However, in a press conference later, they later hit out at the “unbelievable double standard” of the competition, saying it “needs fixing”. When asked about their policy of banning nonbinary flags, Nemo said: “I had to smuggle my flag in because Eurovision said no, but I did it anyway, so I hope some people did that too. But, I mean, come on, this is clearly a double standard.”

They went on to describe the Eurovision experience as “really intense, and not just pleasant all the way”.

“There were a lot of things that didn’t seem like it was all about love and unity. And that made me really sad and at the same time… there was so much love here as well,” they added, dedicating their win to the “people that are daring to be themselves and people that need to be heard and need to be understood.”

In other news, Olly Alexander’s dad was “surprised” at the public giving him zero points for his performance of ‘Dizzy’.

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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