Albania 2015

Eurosong.be is publishing a series of 30 posts looking at how prepared the #escdk participants are to host Eurovision 2015 in the event of a victory in Copenhagen. Posts published Mondays and Thursdays – we’re already one country behind! Below is a translation of Albanië 2015.

RTSH, the Albanian national broadcaster
RTSH, the Albanian national broadcaster

One of the poorest countries in Europe, Albania has taken part in Eurovision every year since 2004. The country has never come dangerously close to victory, but with six finalists from 10 entries, a seventh place in 2004 and fifth in 2012,  it doesn’t have a bad record either.

Albanian broadcaster RTSH takes Eurovision seriously and puts a lot of resources into participation and its national final, Festivali i Këngës.

The technology gap

TV broadcasting in Albania has lagged behind its European counterparts since its launch in 1960, however some recent major investments may help close the gap.

Three digital channels started broadcasting in 2012, followed by a HD channel in June 2013, showing mainly sports programmes bought in from overseas. Eurovision 2014 will be the first contest to be broadcast in HD. Hence if Albania were to win they may well have to rely on external service companies or other (foreign) broadcasters for production.

In part due to its old fashioned programming RTSH’s market share has shrunk to 17%, overtaken by commercial broadcaster Top Channel, who with a 55% share quickly became market leader after their launch in 2002.

Top Channel broadcasts in 16/9 aspect ratio and HD as the norm, and shows the Albanian version of popular global formats such as The Voice, Big Brother, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Albania’s Next Top Model, Albania’s Got Talent and MasterChef, while RTSH’s most watched programme is the rural and agricultural magazine Hapësirë ​​e Blertë’ ‘s. Other broadcasters, such as TV Klan and Vizion+, are also outclassing RTSH technically.

Budget limitations 

An Albanian TV licence costs 1200 lek (€ 8.65) per household, billed in monthly installments via the electricity bill. This brings approximately € 553,000 into the coffers, however the lion’s share of RTSH’s budget comes from the Albanian government, with some additional revenue from advertising and sponsorship.

Hence if RTSH were to organise Eurovision 2015 they would have a lot fewer resources than most of their European counterparts, unless they were to enlist one, or preferably several, major sponsors.

Limited knowledge

A direct consequence of the technology gap is a limited knowledge of contemporary broadcasting standards. In 1996 RTSH organised Miss Europe (ed: that exists? seems so, and won by a Brit in Tirana!), but television has moved on, while as noted above, RTSH has not. Does the broadcaster have the cameramen, lighting and sound technicians and a director with the necessary skills?

Tirana or Durrës?

Issues around a 2014 Albanian victory are not limited to financial and technical considerations. The first step is to find a location in line with the EBU’s criteria.

The first criterion is the number of available hotel rooms – at least 2000 (1000 for the artists and delegations and 1000 for accredited press and fans). Here Tirana is the only option. Albania’s second city, Durrës, does not have sufficient capacity, but is only around half an hour from the capital. Its location on the Mediterranean might make it a more attractive host city than Tirana.

However, neither city has a suitable stadium (EBU criterion: 10,000 spectators) to house the contest. The largest hall in Albania, the Congress Palace in Tirana, venue for Festivali i Këngës every year since 1989, has only 2100 fixed seats.

The tent option 

One of the options for the venue for Eurovision 2014 was a large tent at DR Byen, the headquarters of the Danish broadcaster.  With the withdrawal of Parken in Copenhagen the bookmakers saw the choice of venue as a two horse race between Boxen in Herning and the tent scenario in Copenhagen (overlooking the option of a dilapidated shed).

That the tent scenario was considered feasible is not entirely surprising – the 2004 MTV European Music Awards were broadcast  from a giant tent in Rome, and those not in the know were unaware that the ‘hall’ was actually a tent.

A tent can be pitched anywhere there is room – in a town square, but equally in a park or sports ground. The press centre at Eurovision 2010 was housed in three conjoined tents next to the Telenor Arena in Baerum, near Oslo. Additional tents for production and the press centre (think this is go! on Eurovision Island) in addition to a large tent for the contest itself, are distinct possibilities.

In conclusion, much as we would like to award Albania victory it may perhaps be better – and perhaps RTSH is hoping – if the first Eurovision on Albanian soil doesn’t take place for a few years yet, giving the broadcaster time to catch up on the technical front and Durres or Tirana the chance to find a suitable venue.

Ah well. Perhaps it’s time for the EBU to fund a #eurovisiontent, a truly sustainable solution. In the meantime. let’s celebrate Albania at Eurovision!

Your editor’s favourite entry is the first – check out that guitar solo. What’s yours?

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