I can still watch the contest, I have a little free-to-air receiver (that's a lot nicer to use and is a lot more reliable). The only thing is, the FTA receiver doesn't offer support for BBC interactive or videoteletext. It can do traditional teletext, but that service is quickly dying out.
It isn't all doooom and gloooom however. I have inherited a 450MHz Pentium III computer and into this machine I have inserted the video digitiser card that I used for last year's competition. Better software, a more responsive frame grabber (TWAIN thingy), and better PCI support all mean that images can be grabbed in full resolution.
To give you an example of what I mean, here is a rather topical picture from the Chinese broadcaster Phoenix CNE (programme "Good Morning China", 22nd February 2008 around 01h30 CET):
The reason this is a big deal is not because of Serbia. It is not because of Kosovo. It is because of America and Russia taking sides and using this as an excuse to go for the old Power Play. If it's not "Commies", James-Bond style poisonings, and Missile Shields then why not argue over a small region that I'd reckon a large number of people would need a map in order to say where it actually is.
Do I wish luck to Kosovo? Do I support Serbia? Neither. I don't know enough about the situation to have an opinion either way. I just really hope that politics stays the hell out of friendly competition; for a tragic event at the Olympic Games many years ago shows what happens when misguided political agendas get mixed up in things that should be free of such dross.
Want some politics? Here, read this:
Dear Mr. Spielberg. I have two questions to ask you in return.
#1 - as a Jewish man, would you care to comment on the American support of Israeli actions against Lebanon and Palestine? For extra merit points, please explain how this example is fundamentally different to the very objection that you have raised.
#2 - as an American man, would you care to comment on the actions of your home country in Afghanistan and Iraq? For extra merit points, please explain how both countries have benefitted from military incursion, how peace and stability has been restored to the regions, how the world is a better safer place now, and how military forces from the NATO countries were not obligated to be involved in the swift and concise action, so did not serve as cannon fodder.
Exactly. You should stick to what you do best - making spectacular movies and making grown men bawl their eyes out at the end of the ones like "A.I.". Leave the radical politics to Mia Farrow, and the real politics to a load of slimy people in expensive suits.
Was Kosovo right? Is China justified? I think you'll find that many people will have many opinions (some quite vociferously), but nobody is perfect. Nobody can stand up and say "I'm right and you're wrong". Even if I had a good idea of how to resolve the problem, I'm an outsider so probably won't fully understand the nuances of the situation, and I come from a country that has a colonial past and is actively supporting the US in their deranged foreign policy.
Well baby I'm not a saint, and neither is the country I'm from. All I could provide is a half-assed opinion, and rather than insulting the Serbs and Kosovans with that, I will use this situation and Mr. Spielberg as examples of why friendly international competitions and politics are obligated to stay the hell away from each other.
International venues, such as The Olympic Games and The Eurovision Song Contest try hard to stay clear of political quagmire. What matters is the performance and the song, or if Elena Sokolova gets a higher score than Sasha Cohen. Or if any of the current ski jumpers were even born when Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards took to the air. It doesn't matter where the performer is from, what their religion is, or whether they vote to the left or the right. In the act of doing what they do in their competition, none of that matters. And I hope that it will remain so for the Song Contest (and any other friendly contest) this year, and for future years.
Do I want to see some radical group (uninvited, I would assume) marching around the stage at Belgrade? NO!
Do I want to see Marija Ŝerifovič perform her winning song again, and then see if any of the forty-odd contenders have a hope? YES!
What am I on about? The French entering their Eurovision song in the English language. They have done just this. Ohmigod, WHY!?
I'm not going to waste time writing a "vote here" PHP script. Of my Eurovision contacts, e-penfriends, Brits and Frenchies that I have spoken to about this, not one thinks this is a good idea. There was something both defiant and self-assured about the French sticking with their language; and now even they have succumbed to the idea of singing in English. Perhaps it is an idea to try to rescue them from the wrong and of the score table? Perhaps they have just given in to the tide of English-language entrants.
It was Joni Mitchell who said: something's gained and something's lost in living ev'ry day.
I might be included to revise it as: nothing's gained and much is lost in singing in this way...
Here's hoping for a return to French in 2009; and here is hoping more countries start to embrace their own languages. Marija Ŝerifovič won with a song in her own language (the English language version so misses the point). She received high points not only from the ex-Yugoslav countries (not helping the bloc-vote conspiracy!) but also from Austria and Switzerland and all of the Scandanavian countries. Of the 41 countries in the 2007 contest, 36 of them gave points to Serbia (the UK didn't); thus showing that the majority of Europe, who might not have had a clue what the words actually meant decided that it was a song worth voting for.
The current proposed title of their contest is that given above, which is possibly the worst title they could ever have hoped to devise. It certainly won't help the common accusation that the Americans think that "the world" is America, and nothing else is important. I guess somebody thought that they could one-up eurovision with worldvision? Isn't "Worldvision" some sort of Christian aid charity anyway?
I would like to suggest "The Great American Song Contest", which is slightly larger-than-life in a John Wayne sort of way whilst not telling a word of a lie and being totally descriptive.
When will this come to pass? Apparently there is some sort of legal problem (isn't there always in America? <giggle>). I hope this legal problem lasts exactly as long as it takes them to come up with a better name! Then? Well, if we in Europe ever get broadcast rights (and I don't mean in the middle of the night on CNBC or somesuch), it will be interesting to watch. America has a long list of musical styles specific to regions. Bluegrass, Country, Jazz, laid-back-rock, hip-hop... As you read those you're probably thinking Georgia/Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, California, New York (or similar). And, given the foreign element inherent in America, it may not be a surprise to hear songs in Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese, French...
Let's just hope nobody thinks of making a true "worldvision" song contest. Many years ago I remember CNN's self-promo saying that it was available in 210 countries and territories; and the number has risen since then. That would be how many semi-finals? (and just imagine poor Mr. Stockselius (& Svante's Little Helper) trying to keep track of so many global televotes!)