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Saturday 10 October 2009

Europe unites for poptastic Eurovision

Posted in: Television
By Matt Akersten - 28th April 2009


Every year, dozens of European countries pick a pop act to represent them at the continent's biggest television event. The results can kick-start dazzling music careers, or lead to national shame!

Last year's Eurovision winner - Russian male model Dima Bilan
The Eurovision Song Contest is watched on TV each year by more than 100 million people throughout the world. And this year, the show that gave the world ABBA, Celine Dion, Cliff Richard, Julio Iglesias and even Riverdance will be screened locally, thanks to Auckland's Triangle TV and Stratos channel, which is available on Sky and Freeview.

It's the first time it's screened here in Aotearoa for over three decades, and the Triangle TV crew hopes the camptastic show will attract a loyal local following.

42 nations will battle it out in the Olimpiysky Arena in Moscow - which holds 80,000 people - between 12 and 16 May for the honour to host next year's edition. During the two semi-finals and final that make up the live show, more than nine million people around Europe are expected to call or text to vote support for their favourite acts.

Dima Bilan celebrates his win last year

The day of the final - Saturday 16 May, is also an important one for Russia's LGBT community, as Moscow will unofficially host Slavic Gay Pride. Don't expect things to go smoothly though - the city's notoriously homophobic mayor has never approved of Gay Pride events. 167 LGBT events have so far been banned in Moscow, and organisers who go ahead unofficially have in previous years been detained on charges of 'disrupting public order'.

Russia's LGBT community has swung in behind Eurovision, and is encouraging the song contest's performers to wear lapel pins highlighting the International Gay Against Homophobia during the final show.

The participating acts have been chosen and the countdown has begun… In the run-up to Eurovision 2009, Triangle TV will screen a composite of last year's semi-finals on Sunday 3 May and the 2008 finals on Sunday 10 May. Then 2009's three hour final will be simulcast on Sunday 17 May, less than 12 hours after it screens across the Northern Hemisphere.

Triangle TV is on Auckland UHF Channels 41, 42 and 52 and in Christchurch via TelstraClear cable (Channel 50). Triangle's sister channel Stratos Television broadcasts nationwide via Sky Digital (Channel 89), Freeview (Channel 21) and TelstraClear cable.

Last year's winning Eurovision song 'Believe' performed by Russia's Dima Bilan is shown below.

Matt Akersten - 28th April 2009

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