Good morning, from a vast if slightly chaotic press centre at the Malmömässan. We're here, we have our free green bottle to use with the tap water, we have an Anouk CD, and we're ready to blog.
We attended this morning's EBU press conference. It was streamed online, so I won't give you a full blow-by-blow account, but I would like to talk about some of the more interesting points.
We learned that the shorter rehearsal period has been judged to be a success, and was brought in as a way of keeping costs down for smaller delegations - it's one day less to pay for hotels for 30 people, after all. The costs were perhaps also one reason for choosing Malmö over Stockholm; we've certainly experienced that it's a much less expensive city. The closed rehearsals for the first days also came at the request of delegations, and apparently it was 'some of the more professional singers' who preferred not to have their full rehearsal videos going online instantly. It's seen as a way of encouraging bigger acts to the contest.
Unsurprisingly, the new Eurovision app came up, and the question of how votes are counted. On an iOS device, it will create and send an SMS, meaning you'll be charged in the normal way, and according to Sietse Bakker, your vote will be registered in the country you're in. I'm not sure this is actually correct - I've generally found a vote sent to a short-code number doesn't work when roaming. On an Android device you'll have to set up voting via Paypal - your phone number and credit card must be registered in the same country, and your vote will be counted in the country. (As an aside, I tried this for the UK and it didn't work - it seems the system is only set up for around 30 of the participating countries.)
And as a super-extra-thrilling bonus, you'll get a video from the act you voted for, thanking you for your support!
An important issue addressed was that of how the Big 5 will choose their starting position in the final, or rather whether they'll be in the first half. It seems that it's been decided that three of the 'Big 5 + Sweden' group will be in the first half, and three in the second half. With Sweden already drawn at #16, this leaves five balls - three in the first half, and two in the second half. Each country will draw a ball at their press conferences next Wednesday.
This means that the Big 5 countries, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the UK, all have a 3/5 chance of singing in the first half of the show. Perhaps not the most random approach, but either way they'll be spread out. It'll be interesting to see if this approach is taken with each semi-final - of the ten qualifiers, will five go in the first half and five in the second? We didn't think to ask, so perhaps we'll have to wait until Tuesday night to find out.
And if we understand correctly, when the producers are designing the running order and the reference group are okaying it, Jon Ola Sand is the only one who knows the outcome of the semis.
There was also a lady in a jacket Christine Marchal-Ortiz would have been proud of. She mainly talked about Malmö and tap water though.