The Oslo region attracts talent and experience within a wide range of careers. One of the most attractive employers in the cultural sector is the Norwegian National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). One evening in May 2010, nearly 125 million people will gather in front of their television set to view a program transmitted by over 300 broadcasters worldwide – the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted here in Oslo, by NRK.
The positive local effect on the Oslo region will be enormous. Over several weeks in May 2010, thousands of journalists will descend upon the city of Oslo to prepare their reports to the millions in their respective homelands. Then, the 125 million viewers will tune in – and NRK, the city of Oslo, the country on Norway, and artists representing 42 European countries, will be in the spotlight for an evening of competition, culture and music. It will put on display the rising professional competence that has developed in the Oslo region the last decades – focusing on education and technology and at the same time stimulating culture.
The Eurovision Song Contest has been held every year since 1956. The event has primarily been a European phenomenon. Over the course of the 55 years a number of international legends have sprung from victories, including ABBA and Celine Dion.
A Fairytale Come True
This winner of this one of a kind event is decided by a jury – and the public themselves. Each participating country stages their own qualification event – where the winner is also decided by the public – with the vote taking place by telephone after all entrants each have performed their respective songs. The international final – the Eurovision Song Contest – is staged in just the same way, with each participating country conducting a popular vote and then reporting the results. The votes from each country can go to any nation’s artist – except their own.
The 2009 event produced a historic victory by Norway’s Alexander Rybak with the song “Fairytale” - historic regarding both the total number of points received as well as the margin of victory. This charismatic young artist from Oslo has singlehandedly raised the international level of interest around this unique event to an all-time high. A separate article in this issue regards this talented young Oslo artist.
Bigger than the Super Bowl
During the past several decades, NRK has had the chance to reach out to the world several times, most notably as host broadcaster of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, where IOC President Juan Samaranch declared, “…the best Olympic Winter Games ever.” This type of praise in not given lightly, and was taken seriously by NRK, the lasting effect of the successful project being a profound surge forward as NRK’s collective creativity and technical expertise reached new heights.
The opportunity for NRK to reach out to the world from Norway presents itself again in 2010 as the host broadcaster for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, in close cooperation with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). This annual event is seen by many as being “bigger than the Super Bowl”, and if one looks at the sheer numbers, there are arguments for this statement. In terms of pure viewership, the Eurovision surpasses the Super Bowl by over 20 million, itself a global event with approximately 100 million viewers.
Project of Olympian Proportions
The event is a major opportunity for the national broadcaster NRK – bringing together a talented pool of individuals for an event that is of Olympian proportions. Executive Producer Jon Ola Sand was a natural choice with his extensive experience and success in television project management from both NRK as well as TV2, the second largest broadcaster in Norway (after NRK).
Guiding the project to conclusion on time and within a budget of nearly EUR 25 million is a challenge that Sand welcomes. According to Sand, “This is an enormous task, one that I approach with a combination of enthusiasm and humility. The importance of this project for NRK must not be underestimated, and the talented professionals recruited are the most impressive and all-encompassing since the organization was the host broadcaster for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer fifteen years ago.”
The producer of the Eurovision show, the actual television event that will be seen by millions upon millions in Europe and beyond, is Hasse Lindmo, a television veteran with a background as television event and series producer. Lindmo says, “Any event of this size requires a close-knit team where the emphasis is on allowing everyone to utilize the best of their creative, technical and professional talents, while at the same time providing guidance necessary to stay the course.”
Lindmo continues, “Creativity must go hand-in-hand with the technical requirements – all the time keeping in mind that our main target group is the millions of television viewers sitting in their homes in the many countries where the event will be broadcast in Europe and worldwide. This focus on the viewer has been provided the basis for the 2010 Eurovision slogan Share the Moment.”
Sharing the Moment
The slogan, “Share the Moment”, reflects the importance of the event for the viewers themselves – a cross-cultural, multi-national, all-age group of people with one thing in common – the love, curiosity and fascination for this annual event. NRK will reach out from Oslo and Norway as the host to speak to the millions gathered together – and in one brief span of only a few hours in May 2010 will gather much of the world together, sharing the moment.
The Eurovision Song Contest is similar to the Super Bowl in more ways than the astronomical number of viewers who tune in. As with the Super Bowl, where groups gather together to watch the event – the evening of the Eurovision often sees multi-generational groups of friends and family celebrating together – and of course rooting for their favourite country or artist.
The 2010 Eurovision Song Contest provides NRK with the opportunity to present revolutionary use of technology in showcasing participating artists in this one of a kind event, reflecting the fact that the world is getting smaller, and that major events provide opportunities to make contact and build cultural bridges across international borders. The potential of the media is something that plays an important role in the globalization process, a media potential that the national broadcaster NRK will carefully develop and then display for millions on one night in May 2010